TitleInterview with sociologist Hamid-Reza Jalayipour

“Coming protests even more drastic”

28 Feb 2010

■ Hamid-Reza Jalayipour
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In an interview with Zeynab Esmaīli Siviri (journalist, Bahār newspaper), Dr. Hamid-Reza Jalayipour (sociologist & university professor, Tehran) has made an analysis of the behavior of the Iranian Regime and the opposing ‘Green Movement’. He talks about the strength of the Green Movement’s origins and points out the government’s incapability to take violent measures in the long run. Giving the in-depth quality of his analysis, TehranReview offers its English readers a translation (in two parts).

In the past few months, the situation in Iran has worsened to a worrying state of violence. What do you think has caused this radicalization of the political climate?

First, what we have witnessed so far has been a civil protest, violently dealt with by some, using the state’s power. Second, radicalism doesn’t equal violence. Radicalism stands for the pursuit of fundamental change and violence is the unjust use of physical/verbal power against others. If you see radicalism as violence, you end up considering all the remarkable people who fought during and for the Revolution as violent people, which is a faulty assumption.
If we look at the recent violence from a national and political stance, the question would be: “What did we do that made millions walk the streets in protest?’’ This should not be taken lightly. The Regime easily says, “Three million people protested on 25 Khordad, they thought there had been an electoral fraud but then they were informed and realized that they were wrong, they went back to their homes. Meanwhile, there have been some anarchists, royalists, and traitors whose loyalty is with America and Israel and who have seized the opportunity and are not letting go.’’ The real question is: did all those three million people really go back to their homes? Or have they simply not been given the chance to protest? It’s clear that the government should respond to the people’s protest. If it doesn’t, people are going to get even more hostile and depending on the situation and the opportunities they are going to show their disapproval here and there, today or tomorrow.

Hamid-Reza Jalayipour

How can we analyze this kind of radicalization?

One of the reasons could be that our political system – according to our constitution – should represent the people’s will, every single one of them; anyone who is an adult and can vote or be a candidate. The political system should represent all the 70 million Iranians who are currently living within our borders. There have however been people who have constantly made this political system smaller, who are continuously throwing people out of the system. What happened in the last presidential election was that the people who were thrown out of the system exceeded the people who were in it, which results in the complete disintegration of the society.

Those who are standing outside the political system have realized that their social power is far bigger than those who are in fact in the system

The other element explaining the radicalization is that in this political system, those ‘rejects’ have significant qualitative advantages over those who still remain in it. They are a civilized, well-educated group that wants respect and prosperity for their country. They are tired of the bragging dishonest attitude of the current government and want to be influential in their country’s future.
It seems that those who are standing outside the political system have realized that their social power is far bigger than those who are in fact in the system. The government is not giving them permission to protest, which confirms this theory. If they were indeed a small group and as they say 50 million people have accepted the result of this last election, what is there to worry about? They should allow Mr. Mousavi to have a rally to demonstrate how small this group really is. They definitely won’t do that, but they should know where the problem lies. They cannot distort the truth for themselves. The problem is that the extremists are pursuing a narrow totalitarian political structure. On the other hand, those who really care about the country are trying to act civil in reaction to this stingy, destructive, anti-Islamic behavior. This kind of civil movement and protest has not been seen anywhere else in the world in recent years. In that respect, Iran is an exceptional country where some reach out to violence in dealing with people using the money from selling oil and taxes, and yet people try to stay civil.
It’s very strange that an educated nation of this potential that experienced the biggest revolution in the region only 30 years ago – in which it aimed for an inclusive reformed political structure – has come to be oppressed by swaggering extremists and is being led into a dictatorship; while the opposing voice is threatened with arrests and accusations of working with foreigners. The government is the most extensive and influential establishment in our country, which is exceptional in the world in terms of size, the number of resources and the extension of the state’s interference and domain in economy, religion, bureaucracy, culture, media, etc. There is nothing that is not somehow under the control of the state. And how is an establishment of such importance and influence being administered? One of these extremists’ approaches is that only their model and identity should be adopted by Iranian people. They don’t believe in diversity, they only care about dictating their model of life. In such an atmosphere, there’s not much room for flexibility, which results in what we are witnessing at the moment. Those extremists expect only one singular identity. For example, the youth in Tehran: they consider themselves Iranian, and they also think of themselves as Shiite Muslim. They see themselves as part of the national and international community. People who live in Tehran at the moment have a remarkable diversity and they live their own lives. When the extremists want to set their model of living as the one and only, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these people will react.

End of part one

Read part two

Tehran Review
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