The Fight for Iran's Democratic Ideals

Over the weekend thousands of Iranian students continued their protests to demand political reform. Their voices were raised in support of Hashem Aghajari, the college professor who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy. But the student movement is broader than dissent over one injustice. What is it that the protesters are saying? The original ideals of the 1979 Iranian Revolution were democracy and social justice, coupled with a respect for the nation's distinct cultural identity. At the time, even the clergy emphasized the necessity of democratic rights and tolerance. These ideals were codified in the country's constitution. Article 56 explicitly states that God made man ''master of his own social destiny,'' and that ''no one can deprive man of this divine right, nor subordinate it to the vested interests of a particular individual or group.'' Unfortunately, these founding ideals have been violated repeatedly. The proud traditions and norms of Iran are what the students seek to revitalize. Theirs is not a counterrevolution but a completion of the present one.

By Saeed Razavi-Faqih and Ian Urbina

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