July 30, 2013
Iran is not a genuine democracy
By Kasra Nejat
In the United States, we know a presidential election gives us the power to freely choose the next leader of our country — one who can and will create real change. Every day, we see democracy at its best. Unfortunately, as we all know, the people of Iran do not get to enjoy the daily freedoms we take for granted.
Aug. 4 will mark a significant date in Iran’s history as the inauguration day for newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rowhani. Media throughout the country have depicted Rowhani as a moderate selection, suggesting he will help establish a more democratic Iran. Nothing is further from reality than this myth, which is delusional and dangerous.
As an Iranian-American and resident of Missouri, I think it is important to note an insider and personal view on this recent election. It is crucial the media and the U.S. people consider who actually selected Rowhani as a leader. Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, and the mullahs selected Rowhani, a high-ranking official of the Iranian regime throughout the last three decades — not the Iranian people.
Rowhani was investigated and approved by Khamenei’s Guardian Council for the June 14 election as one who has proved his complete allegiance to the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader, both in theory and practice.
In an election where only eight candidates were approved to run for office from a total of more than 680 who registered, it is clear this was not a free and fair election — that there is no democracy in Iran. Rowhani has been boasting about his role in pushing the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons forward surreptitiously and has been a staunch backer of terrorist group Hezbollah and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
I have been a supporter of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) for years and am proud to support the multitude of accomplishments the organization and its sister group, the MEK, have attained over the past several years. NCRI, led by Maryam Rajavi, has been instrumental in revealing secrets about Iran’s nuclear program, including the 2002 announcement of a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz and a heavy-water facility at Arak. In 2010, the organization released evidence of another nuclear facility west of Iran’s capital, Tehran. Earlier this month, NCRI announced the existence of a previously unknown underground nuclear site under construction in Iran. This revelation was covered widely in the Western press.
Much work remains to be done in Iran, though, to reach even the basic liberties Americans take for granted in their daily lives — liberties such as separation of religion and state, gender equality, recognition of private property and free elections. These are all nonexistent in Iran today.
As a proud Iranian-American, I long for the day when I can travel to my home country freely and see prosperity and not destruction. I hope one day my children and grandchildren will be proud of their heritage and celebrate the millions of Iranians living outside Iran who have worked for decades in support of democracy.
Kasra Nejat, a resident of St. Louis, is president of the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri.