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A letter from Iran

Via the Norman Geras blog (and in turn via Glenn Reynolds), is a long letter that challenges head-on the disgraceful spectacle of Iran’s conference of December 2006 to “debate” whether the Holocaust existed. Good. It is a letter that reminds us that thousands, maybe millions, of Iranians do not subscribe to the same claptrap as its leaders. It is welcome and important that such views get an airing. I hope it happens a great deal more often.

6 comments to A letter from Iran

  • I hope they change their government. And I hope that we don’t try!

  • Saif

    I fear the argument will lose much of it validity by being made by people many of whom have addresses in North America.

  • ian

    Many also have addresses in Iran, which places them under real threat of losing their liberty or indeed their life…

  • Michiganny


    Your comment makes me curious–are the views of Muslims in America taken at a discount generally by those in Muslims countries?

    For all the people who have come to the US, are there significant amounts of people who refuse to go to America on some grounds? What are they?

    I am asking because as I drove through western Detroit yesterday, I just got a kick out of seeing tiny signs that said things like “Bakery” or “Insurance” below huge signs in Arabic. I do not know what the Islamic world has contributed to the insurance industry, but any run of the mill Arab bakery in Dearborn could teach most patisseries a thing or two.

  • I am awaiting the Guardian op-ed in which the letter is denounced as a ‘right-wing smear campaign’.

  • Paul Marks

    First the Iranians who signed the letter whilst still living in Iran were very brave – people have been killed for less.

    On Rich Paul’s comment “I hope they change their government” – the powers-that-be in Iran (the Supreme Leader, the Council of Guardians and the administrative agencies below them) decide such things as who can be a candidate in Iranian elections – so there is no peaceful way to “change their government”.

    As for revolt – to call for revolt (whilst not intending to help) is a very bad thing to do. It is like President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1991 calling upon the people of Iraq to revolt against Saddam – and then just watching when they were slaughtered for doing so.

    Contrary to David Hume, many governments do not depend on opinion. In many nations in many times in history most people have been opposed to the government – but it has been too strong to overthrow.

    Still at least you did NOT say “free Iran” in the sense that the “liberals” say “free Tibet” or demand an end to the killing in the Sudan.

    If the United States ever tried to “free Tibet” the liberals would be the first to complain (as the bodybags started to come home) and it is too late to free this nation anyway – as Han Chinese now outnumber Tibetians in Tibet.

    As for the Sudan – many of the same people who denounce intervention in Iraq now demand it there (“we do not demand war” – oh yes, what they do you demand? “sanctions?” a nasty letter from the U.N.? what?) at least you have fallen into the trap and I respect you for not falling into it.

    It is at least consistent to hold to the postion that the United States should simply ignore mass murder in other countries – as (it can be argued) trying to stop it will not work (partly because Americans seem to lack the will for long wars).

    On Michiganny’s question.

    It is the duty of a Muslims to spread the faith (no surprise there most, although not all, faiths hold that). However, the founder of Islam was a great fighter (I highly respect him as a military leader) and put great stress on the need to spread Islam by armed means.

    When a Christian uses military force to spread his faith (as many have) he acts against the example of Jesus. But when a Muslim does such things he acts in accordance with the example of Mohammed.

    It is possible for a Muslim to live outside the rule of Islam (in lands governed by the infidels), but it is his duty to change the stutus of these lands (when it is practical to do so) by all means necessary.

    Almost needless to say, if a conflict arises between a land (ruled by infidels) and the world of Islam, then it is the duty of a Muslim who lives in this land (whether he is a immigrant, or was born there, or is a convert) to support the world of Islam.

    At least that is the position of most Muslim scholars – although they do not like to disscuss it openly with nonMuslims.

    How many Muslims in the United States or Britain take Islam seriously and how many are “nominal Muslims” I do not know.

    However, things can change quickly.

    For example, when Gordon first went to the Sudan (to try and destroy the slave trade 1876-1878) it was a land mostly populated by “Muslims” (the last Christian kingdoms in the Sudan having been destroyed a couple of centuries before after resisting the forces of Islam for a thousand years), but these were Muslims who enjoyed wine and where many women went bare breasted.

    But when Gordon returned (1884-1885) a Muslim in the Sudan had declared himself “the Mahdi” and, with a great army of followers, was engaged in killing all those who opposed strict Islam (and conquest of the Islamic world and of all non Muslims whether in Abyssinia or anyway else).

    Whether a Muslim will remain a nominal Muslim or become a strict Muslim is impossible to predict in advance. The first indication a non Muslim may get is when someone who he had thought of as a friend (indeed was a friend) tries to kill him.

    This does not mean that one can not trade with Muslims or be friends with them, it just means that one must not be careless.

    On Iraq: I got into trouble with (for example) Dale Amon for expressing doubts about the wisdom of intervention due to my judgement of character of the population.

    My judgement was based on long talks (from childhood) with a family friend who had lived in Iraq and from the study of the recent history of the country (a history of cruel mass murders and so on – long before the Arab Socialist party of Saddam was improtant).

    Actually the intervention has gone better than feared it would. Only a minority of the population seem to be interested in murdering each other, and only about three thousand American lives have been lost.

    I know that “only about three thousand” will sound heartless, but these are very low casualities for such a major operation. Especially considering the people and resources that have come from all over the Islamic world – especially from the population (although, for once, not the government) of Saudi Arabia (to support Sunni groups) the government of Iran (to support Shia groups – and, in spite of their killing of Shia people, Sunni groups as well), the government of Syria and the “Party of God” in the Lebanon.

    It may even be possible to firmly establish the prestent constitutional democratic govenrment in Iraq (after all Iraq had close to such a government before the military revolution of 1958).

    Although I do not know how long such a government will last. Perhaps the Shia being involved (indeed in a leading position) will make a difference.

    All other regimes in Iraq have been Sunni – right since the capture of Baghdad by the Turks from the Persians in 1638. Although a Wahabi Sunni (say of the modern Saudi type) might not consider the Ottoman Turks to be true Sunni – the Sufi tradition had a great influence on the Ottoman Turks.