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Egyptian Press: Iran's Democracy is Spurious By: MEMRI
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 17, 2009

As protests against the alleged vote-rigging in the June 12, 2009 Iranian presidential election were at their height in Iran and in other countries, the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousef, which is affiliated with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, devoted a large part of its June 27 issue to articles against the Iranian government. While the articles' authors harshly criticized the Iranian regime, comparing it to Nazism, Fascism, and Al-Qaeda, and questioning its legitimacy, they did not focus specifically on the Iranian presidential election, but rather used them as a pretext to voice anti-Iranian views.

Relations between Iran and Egypt have been strained since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, with tension intensifying following the December 2008 Gaza war and the April 2009 capture of a Hizbullah cell operating in Egypt. [1] Accordingly, the articles elaborated on the "rule of the jurisprudent"(velayat-e faqih) in Iran established by the revolution, attempting to refute the official Iranian claim that it was instated via democratic elections expressing the will of the people, and to show that the Iranian clerics' concept of government is incompatible with the principles of democracy.

It seems that in attacking the theocratic state, the authors of the articles were motivated in part by domestic political considerations - they aimed to warn the Egyptian public about the Muslim Brotherhood's intention to form an Islamic state in Egypt, and to undermine the organization's image by presenting it as an ally of Iran. By criticizing Iran, the authors also censured the Iranian lobby in the Egyptian press, which is represented by a group of journalists who are financed by Iran and who serve its interests.

Following are excerpts from the articles in the June 27, 2009 issue of Roz Al-Yousef:

Roz Al-Yousef Editor: Iran's Democracy is Spurious, Its Presidency Insignificant

In an article titled "Dictators in Allah's Name: The Absolute Supreme Leader and the Obedient President," Roz Al-Yousef editor 'Abdallah Kamal wrote: "The situation [in Iran] has reached the point where [an election] was rigged and [people] were shot and killed in the streets. A veritable hell! And yet, they still try to convince us that [the election] was democratic and vital, and that they have brought about a change of government.

"This country [Iran]… is nothing but one big fraud and a vast arena of corruption and conspiracies… No Iranian citizen can run in the elections without the approval of the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council. He must be 100% loyal to the Revolution, and is expected to believe in it and defend its principles. In other words, before winning the public votes, a candidate must secure the 'sacred vote'…"

Kamal wrote that Iran's elections are a mere show, and thus are worthless: "Putting aside for the present the game of presidential elections, which serve only to entertain the people… whose vote has no bearing on the nature of the state, the revolutionary regime has for the past 30 years been run by three people: the late [founder of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, [Expediency Council chairman and former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, and [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei…"

Kamal then launched a personal attack on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and dismissed the presidency as unimportant. He wrote: "The president of the Iranian regime is not president as the term is understood in Egypt, the U.S., or France - regimes in which the president is elected. The truth is that [in Iran,] the absolute ruler with the widest-ranging authority is the [supreme] guide, i.e. the supreme revolutionary leader, who is elected not by the people but by the Assembly of Experts…

"[Iran's] president is of barely any significance in this regime - he merely oversees the implementation of policies and functions as a high-ranking spokesman, or, if we want to be more charitable, as the head of the government - while according to the Article 57 of the constitution, all authority is in the hands of the supreme leader, who is termed 'the absolute ruler and the nation's imam.'"


Iran's Regime is Dictatorial and Tyrannical

Another article, titled "Religious State - Political Lie" includes an interview with several Egyptian intellectuals focusing on Iran, conducted by journalist Asmaa Nassar. In it, Al-Tagammu' party leader Dr. Rif'at Al-Sayyed stated: "The real problem is that [Iran] has only one source of authority, which is not the constitution, nor the law, nor yet the majority opinion. Rather, it is the 'rule of the jurisprudent,' [representing] the religious outlook of the religious state's founding fathers, which honors neither the constitution nor democracy."

In another of the articles, political Islam researcher Isma'il Hosni drawing a parallel between the regime of the Iranian ayatollahs and dictatorship, claiming that the common denominator in a theocracy's sources of authority and in a dictatorship is tyranny. He wrote: "Both [types of regime claim] to possess the absolute truth, and let not a single day pass without [exercising] tyranny or depriving others of the freedom to express their opinions…"

A number of the authors of the Roz-Al-Yousef articles contended that the Islamic Republic had never, since its inception, reflected the will of the people, relying instead on power, intimidation, coercion, and violence. Thus, Hosni claimed that when the Shah was deposed in 1979, Iran's clerics eliminated the liberal leftist elements that had participated in the coup: "They [i.e. the clerics] managed to [gain full control] of the situation because of the tyrannical and aggressive nature of their organization, which is governed by the principle of blind obedience; because of the rift and discord in the [national] movement; and by taking advantage of the chaos in the Iranian street. Capitalizing on the high and constantly increasing illiteracy among the populace, they successfully lured an enormous number of common people into rallying around flashy religious slogans, and took over the leadership of the national movement…"

In an article titled "The Black History of the Ayatollahs' Revolution," Dr. Sayyar Al-Jamil analyzed the methods by which the Iranian clerics established absolute rule and suppressed the opposition. He wrote: "When [the Shah was deposed] in mid-August 1979, dozens of Iranian papers and periodicals opposed to the idea of an Islamic government were closed down. [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini angrily denounced protests against their closure, saying, 'We thought that we were dealing with human beings, but apparently this is not the case…'

"In March 1980, the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution broke out, and Iranian universities -hitherto leftist and Marxist strongholds - were closed down…

"In July [1980], the [newly established] theocracy fired 20,000 teachers and 8,000 officers, on the grounds that they were 'too Westernized'…

"Although the majority of the Iranians accept [the 'rule of the jurisprudent'], the intellectuals and [various] political groups in Iran categorically reject it - and all too soon discover that the fate of all who oppose this ideology is death…"

Al-Jamil concludes that the Iranian Revolution has not improved the situation of the Iranian people, who "after toppling a tyrannical dictatorship, found themselves instead saddled with a tyrannical theocracy."


The Beginning of the End of the Islamic Republic

Most of the authors and interviewees agreed that the recent events in Iran marked the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic. But they differed in their predictions as to when this would happen, and also in their assessments of the contributing factors. Some contended that the overall decrease in the popularity of religious organizations that seek to establish a dictatorial regime would bring about the its collapse - as happened to the Taliban, to Hizbullah, and to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Dr. Jihad 'Awda, professor of political science at Helwan University, stated: "History has shown that theocracies cannot endure. At no historical period have nations been able to tolerate a political regime that is based on a monolithic religious view of man and behavior and on a single concept of what is or is not permissible…"

The editor of the Egyptian Culture Ministry weekly Al-Qahira, Salah 'Issa, contended that the protests that followed Iran's presidential election was staged by the younger generation "born after the revolution, whose consciousness has been shaped differently."

"He added: "[This generation] has other dreams, formed in a world that is more open. Forty-five million people in Iran use cellular phones and the Internet, and have broader opportunities to interact with the world. They think differently and dream about a different world - one based on racial and cultural pluralism. This is what they encountered in the human civilization to which they have been exposed.

"They have perceived an enormous contradiction between these ideas and the ideology of the theocratic state in which they live… Humanity will discard theocracy as it has discarded Nazism, Fascism, and other forms of dictatorship."

In his article, 'Issam 'Abd Al-'Aziz maintained that the recent events in Iran signified a national protest against Ahmadinejad's foreign and domestic policy, which has exacted a heavy price from the people, and expressed hope that Ahmadinejad's rival would solve the problems that beset Iran.

Others pointed out that it was Western intervention that had undermined the theocratic regime in Iran. 'Ain Shams University lecturer Dr. Muna Abusana stated: "The events in Iran would not have been possible without the help of the international community, and this is true for Lebanon as well. Hizbullah was on the verge of victory, but suddenly the tables were turned and it lost the elections.

"Recently, the international community has clearly realized that a theocracy poses a serious threat to modernization and civilization… A full-scale war is being waged against this concept - and that is why it is in retreat. We are facing an historic opportunity, which we must exploit in order to save our civilization…"

Dr. 'Sayyar Al-Jamil, however, took a different position. He advised the U.S. and Britain to refrain from interfering in the events in Iran, stating that any external threat to the regime would only generate greater support for it among the Iranian public.


Criticism of Iran's Allies in the Arab World

In their articles, the authors also criticized the Arab countries allied with Iran whose relations with Egypt are strained. Al-Roz Al-Yousef editor 'Abdallah Kamal criticized Arab elements that praised Iran in the Arab press, particularly Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem and Qatar's Emir. He said that Al-Mu'allem "acted as if he were Iran's foreign minister," and criticized the Emir for saying that "Iran has had four presidents in the [post] revolutionary period." Kamal wrote: "[The Emir's statement] may have been intentional, but but maybe he simply forgot that there have been six [Iranian presidents]: the first fled from the revolution, while the second was killed through its munificence…"

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