Photos: This week's protests in Iran. Still wondering why the women are still wearing their head scarves.
Intriguing interview by Alyssa Lapin at the American Thinker with Faryar Nikbakht, an advisor to Roozbeh Farahanipour, leader-in-exile of the secular Iranian party Marz Por Gohar (MPG), which "spearheaded" the anti-regime demonstrations of July 9, 1999. This week, Farahanipour clandestinely and dangerously returned to Iran for the first time in ten years to try to organize demonstrations commemorating the tenth anniversary of July 9th. Lappen and co-author Andrew Bostom describe the Farahanipour's goals as nothing less than the"wrenching transformation of Iranian society -- utterly rejecting both any strain of the Shi'ite theocratic rule (most notably its present incarnation), which has characterized Iran since 1502, and Iran's more benevolent (if still brutal) and transient experiment with a Western leaning, secular-oriented but autocratic "constitutional" monarchy, from 1925 to 1979."
In announcing Farahanipour's return, the MPG noted that competing factions within Iran were "trying to confine the present movement within the tight Islamic and Constitutional limits" and exhorted the Iranian public to, as the authors write, "re-invigorate the suppressed June election protests with en masse demonstrations throughout Iran on July 9th."
Demonstrations have taken place. We'll have to wait and see what comes of them -- as will Farahanipour himself. What was noticeable in the assessment offered by his associate Faryar Nikbakht was -- besides a frankly stated goal of separation of church and state and rollback of sharia -- a disarming candor about the inscrutable nature of the demonstrators and the unknowable, probably minimal extent to which they support the secular MPG. The authors write:
During the interview, Nikbakht further elucidated the MPG's ideals and goals, consistent with what Farahanipour has expounded previously. Nikbakht's thoughtful responses about the prospects for reform in Iran contrast starkly with the unfettered emotionalism on display elsewhere. Odd, non-sequitur speculations about the murderous former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi somehow morphing into an acceptable politician, are conspicuously absent from Nikbakht's statements. Instead, although hopeful, and imbued with measured optimism, Nikbakht acknowledges the very inchoate nature of the contemporary Iranian reform movement, and openly professes having no idea about the extent to which MPG's vision for a truly secular, democratic Iran is shared by the Iranian populace....
Read it all, including Alyssa Lappen's Q & A, here.