Tony Blair’s most recent comments draw a dividing line between what he determines as good & bad Muslims. George Bush & cronies spout the same ideology, claiming their support for Israel is based on ridding the Middle East of “terrorists” and their subverted interpretation of Islam. Yet since 9/11, the “war on terror” has given Islamic extremists an ever increasing public platform; Al Qaida, the Taliban and now Hamas’s Hezbollah are also included. But Hamas is a democratically elected government of Palestine and therefore cannot be a terrorist regime of power. The Palestinian government has every right to retaliate and attempt to defend their people from repeated assaults by Israeli military factions, who regularly kill, imprison, assault, torture and terrorise innocent Palestinians living on the border territories – people can only suffer so much before they’re left with no choice but to return that hostility. Hamas’s presence in Lebanon is no different to the USA’s military presence in Britain: regular USA missions supply Israel with bombs etc., all flown from UK soil.
If Western powers and in particular, UK & USA governments, were really interested in combating Islamic extremism, then we can only wonder why our “free” press has never put forward any viable alternatives. A prime example of media ignorance is the case of Massoud & Maryam Rajavi; branded terrorists for the last 9 years, both Massoud and his wife Maryam have been denied entry into the USA & UK. The global public might well ask why they’ve never heard of the Rajavis and why they’ve no idea about the importance of their roles in the Middle East i.e. Iran.
Massoud Rajavi is a devout Muslim as are many, if not most, of his supporters. As leader of the Iranian Liberation Front, he spearheaded events leading to the Iranian Revolution. Cruelly persecuted by the Shah as communists, the ILF was finally usurped from taking power in Iran, when the West quickly ferried in Khomeni, amidst a plethora of global publicity. Until his return, Khomeni had been expelled from Iran due to his extreme Islamic beliefs, France gave him refuge. Once in power, Khomeni lost no time in overseeing the torture and execution of hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens – his was a rule of terror; women, previously living Western life styles, were expected to step back into the dark ages – they lost all their human rights of choice and self autonomy; Khomeni lowered the marriageable age for girls to 13.
Massoud’s vision for a post-revolutionary Iran was that of a liberated, educated and social society, tolerant of all creeds and faith – undoubtedly anti-capitalist, but definitely not hard-line communist. USA & UK business interests and religious extremists, were clearly anxious to stamp-out this new development in an influential and oil-rich nation like Iran. While both East & West put a blockade on all media coverage of the ILF, in the years preceding the revolution, Western medias regularly used the Shah’s persecution of ILF members as proof, he was a despot ruler and subsequently, was “legitimately” refused asylum in the West when he fled Iran.
Maryam and Massoud married a few years after they and their supporters were forced into exile. Saddam gave them refuge along the Iraq-Iran border – with a small army and arsenal of tanks, there was literally nowhere else for them to go. Maryam, along with her three sisters, had long been a member of the ILF – one sister was executed by the former Shah, the other, condemned by Khomeni’s regime - the fact she was pregnant did not delay her execution. Prior to the revolution, Maryam had met with Massoud and through long debate, managed to convince him that liberation of women must be a prime foundation of a fair and social society. Massoud discovered the Koran itself is supportive of change and specifically asks Muslims to abandon old ways and beliefs, when new knowledge proves them wrong and/or detrimental to society.
Soon after her marriage to Massoud, the exiled Iranian council for the ILF (consisting of 50% men & 50% women) elected Maryam their leader. Maryam and Massoud went on a crusade throughout the West, seeking official recognition and support for the ILF and their rights to return to Iran as democratically elected leaders. Due mainly to the antics of the fanatical regime in Iran, many European and UK MP’s offered their support, but the Rajavis were continually denied any national/global publicity. The ’98 World Cup match between Iran & USA at Lyons, France, saw 40,000 Iranian & European supporters of the ILF arriving up at the stadium, the vast majority wore bright yellow T-shirts sporting pictures of the Rajavis and of course, we all carried the traditional Iranian flag. A minority of supporters had T-shirts and flags confiscated before entering the stadium, but French authorities were unable to prevent the majority getting through. Instead, security forces stood side by side, circling the crowd in the stadium, intermittently leaping in to confiscate flags, slogans etc.
The Iran-USA match was the only one screened on TV minus sound or pictures of the supporters: One tiny corner of the stadium seated a hundred or so Khomeni followers – any TV footage of the crowd was limited to that spot. What little news coverage we did receive, merely criticized us for “politicizing” the “beautiful game”.
The media blackout on such a significant event as occurred in Lyon ’98, is a sharp testament to the undeniable reality that Western Governments have not ever, and do not now, seek to establish a fair and reasonable Islamic democracy in the Middle East. That’s why myself, along with 20,000 ILF supporters were again ignored by the global media when in September ’99, we surrounded the UN building in New York, to protest at the swearing-in of Khatami – a man responsible for deaths of over 150,000 innocent Iranians, many of whom, had done nothing more than publicly speak out against a harsh regime.
Where was the US president then? Where was the UK Prime Minister? Were we frequently witnessing lengthy debates throughout the news media, about the importance of viable alternatives like the ILF?
So Iran say Israel should not exist and Tony Blair thinks that gives Israel the right to kill and terrorise the Lebanese population? Is the “coalition of the willing” really trying to root out a cancer of extremism? Are their “surgical strikes” really protecting the patient? We may muse with analogy, except this is the reality of the “war on terror” – the reality, the reasoning of black versus white, good against evil, the only reality we’re invited to see and reflect. This is the favoured tried and tested method, the game-plan of colonial conquest: divide and rule. As Condeleeza Rice herself stated; “we must all choose a side”. The “cancer” is not being removed - the “operation” is destined to rapidly, quicken its spread.
The free-thinking, free-moving global population have no choice, but to accept and face up to the true reality – this is not a war on terror – the very nature of the combat denies any voice to an equitable, social and Islamic alternative; Middle Eastern people are being herded into finding allegiance with an oppressive and antiquated ideology where the likes of Al Qaida reign supreme. Meanwhile, Western populations are locked in a so-called democratic process which only ever allows them a vote for extreme capitalists, just as Iranians may now only vote for extreme Islamists. Indeed, democratic leaders are using the terrorist threat as an excuse for bringing in National identity cards and giving the police rights to shoot-to-kill on suspicion alone.
From 9/11 onwards, open ILF contact has ceased as their headquarters in London were seized and members forced to disband. The news that a woman burned herself to death when France threatened to return Maryam Rajavi to Iran, was not deemed important enough to reach news headlines in 2002. Maybe if she’d blown herself up and injured a few people…? Maybe, if Massoud and Maryam were an evil duo, bent on pursuing an extreme and evil dictatorship by whatever means necessary, maybe now, they’d be a household name. Since 9/11, Maryam Rajavi has been under house arrest in France, the whereabouts of Massoud Rajavi is unknown; rumours are that he and ILF military forces were specifically targeted and killed, during the invasion of Iraq.
Supporters of the Rajavis and the ILF remain a serious threat to capitalist interests in the Middle East - the likes of Bush and cronies are anxious to nip a Social-Islamic ideology in the bud and replace it with an enemy they have no problems in identifying i.e. the Islamic extremist. The Bush administration would be hard pushed to explain why the ILF are a terrorist threat, when all they’re demanding is women’s rights, democracy and a fair and just, Islamic-Socialist society: a vital cornerstone of sanity in the Middle East.
This is the only side we can and must choose if we wish to step beyond the medieval psyche that continues to rule our corrupt, imbalanced and blinkered “post modern” world.
D. S. Thuja