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August 12, 2008

Guest Post: “Lost in Opposition”

Special guest post by Pedram Moallemian
This post first appeared at eyeranian.net:

One of the many problems with the primarily “in-exile” opposition to the Iranian government is their choice to detach themselves from the day-to-day lives of their compatriots back home. I say choice, as with the state of today’s technology, distance is an almost non-existing barrier and they could certainly connect to current issues and hot topics within Iran if they wanted to.
The latest example is a piece of legislation that has already passed primary screening procedures of the appropriate committee and is about to be presented to the Iranian parliament, Majles. Introduced and backed by both the judiciary as well as cabinet and under the title of “Family Assistance Bill” [layehe-hamayat-az-khanevadeh], it will become law if passed by the greater chamber and then ratified by the Guardian Council to ensure its compatibility with the constitution as well as Islamic law and traditions.

Some of the most troublesome sections of the new bill further restrict the rights of women, in particular as it relates to various areas under family law. Proposed changes have set the alarms off already for many activists inside Iran, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi who is threatening to stage a sit-in in front of the Majles if it is passed.
Section 48 of the new legislation, for example, provides for a father that has already lost custody but refuses to hand over the child to the mother to avoid current penalty of a prison sentence by replacing it with a cash fine.
Section 23 not only validates polygamy, it also lifts the current restriction that requires men to obtain permission of their first wife to be able to marry again, as long as they are able to financially support the new family.
There are a number of other examples but I haven’t been able to find any serious attempt by any group opposing the Iranian regime to organize a campaign abroad to contradict the bill, resist its passage and certainly reach out and educate those inside Iran with its closed system of government that may not even be aware of the its impending passage.
There is little doubt they could do it if they wanted to. Presently, there are at least 12 television stations broadcasting 24/7 programming in Farsi to Iran from Southern California alone. Not to mention other TV and radio stations, plus thousands of webcasts, blogs and websites. So, why don’t they? That is when I need to stress again, how they have chosen to remove themselves from the realities of today’s Iran and Iranians.
The very few people who still run these groups as they always have been for the last 28+ years, like to busy themselves with grand visions, real or imagined. These supposed visionaries are too preoccupied with images of an “overthrow” and the glorious rescue of the beloved country to welcome them to her bosoms to worry too much about the women that will be affected immediately after this bill passes.
By continually refusing to address the most immediate but smaller issues, their message and attitude towards the Iranians who have had to deal with this regime for every day of the last (close to) three decades is condescending if not audacious and disrespectful. And as long as they decline to demonstrate more reverence for their people, they will generally be ignored, the way they have been this far.
For further information on the proposed legislation in Farsi, please visit here.

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