Friday, June 28, 2013

Civil Society Prevents the Destruction of A Valuable Garden

Experts believe the natural pristine forests of Iran, belonging to the Hircanian age, probably date back to between 2-3 million years ago. These natural forests are a natural reservoir of diverse flora and fauna and exceptional beauty. They comprise up to 4% of the country's area and are under constant pressure from legal and illegal logging, urbanization and industrialization projects. Situated at the north of Iran andsouthern border of the Caspian sea, these forests are a natural touristic attraction for millions of people who visit the north every year.
Since two years ago, State officials announced plans to construct a highway passing between the Nowshahr Botanical Gardens in Mazandaran. This botanic reservoir which dates more than 5 decades ago is a  unique collection of living plants many of which are at the verge of extinction. Many of these plants are also ornamental as well. In addition to research and education, the Garden is a touristic attraction as well. At that time many NGOs and environmental activists opposed the action and certain members of the Garden administration filed a legal claim against the local authorities. This led to a judicial verdict and the plans were temporarily cancelled.
Last week a new directive was issued to begin the destruction of the Garden on Wednesday. NGOs and civil society activists began a campaign to protest against the action and to prevent the government from executing its directive. They also signed a petition asking Dr. Rouhani the President elect to take action to prevent the destruction of this valuable biodiversity reservoir.
NGOs arrived on the site on Wednesday to see that the directive has been temporarily annulled and construction activity cancelled.

Recent Presidential elections resulted in the victory of the moderate candidate who called for change. This event indicates that the winds of change are on the way and there is much reason for optimism.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sectarian Divide and The Savior

The Muslim world is now more than ever threatened by sectarian strife  and discord. The Shia –Sunni divide has been orchestrated by radical and deviant groups to fuel terrorism and violence in Islamic societies. The recurring tragedy of sectarian violence has torn apart the social and economic fabric of societies in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq , Bahrain and Syria. Messages inciting hatred and revenge are now heard even in social networks which were intended to promote understanding and dialogue .
Certain Sunni religious figures have sometimes given violent and radical   fatwas against Shias and Shia groups have sometimes resorted to insults against the Sunnis.
In the late 70s Imam Khomeini considered the sectarian divide as a major threat to the Muslim Ummat, for this reason he designated the week between  birthday of the Prophet which is the 12th of Rabie according to Sunni tradition and the 17th of Rabie according to Shia tradition as the Week of Unity . Now for years many festivities and  societies like the Dar Al Taghrib  have been established and civil groups are active to promote unity but it seems that this approach does not suffice any longer. It is very evident today among the effective tactics that espionage teams and CIA or MI6 groups follow that creating discord and enmity is a method for weakening the Muslim Ummah.
The birthday of the Savior, which is a common theme not only among Muslim sects( eventhough there are varying interpretations) but among many Abrahamic religions, is a unique opportunity to promote dialogue and discourse among Shia and Sunni groups and to invite them to prevent radical groups from taking the upper hand in their societies.

According to tradition and Hadith , Mahdi will bring a message of peace, unity and justice for all human beings of earth, he will eradicate oppression , poverty and the suffering of the people. His message is one of love and understanding for all humankind.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rouhani and A New Era of Moderation and Reform

The Coalition of Moderates and Reformists for Change has resulted in the victory of Dr.Hassan Rouhani. His victory was a surprise since many predicted that elections would be taken to the second round and things would become very difficult, but when Khatami and Hashemi backed Rouhani and when the people moved into the election scene things changed quickly.
Tehran was the scene of spontaneous joy and celebration last night. Thousands came into the streets in many cities in Iran to celebrate the victory of the Reformists and the departure of Ahmadinejad. Among the slogans they chanted was the freedom of political prisoners and Mousavi and Karroubi.
The jubilation and political expectations together are another indication that the people are well aware of the implications of this important political development.
For years Reformists were under pressure, they were imprisoned or questioned for their criticism and opposition to government policies. For years the political monopoly of Principalists in power claimed that Reformists were ousted from the social and political scene in Iran. They spoke about the end of reformism and the Green movement but last night Tehran and many large cities in Iran spoke in other terms. Seventy two percent of those eligible to vote had come to the polls and 50.7 percent had voted for Rouhani . As a major display of democracy and change in Iran, expectations are that foreign relations will improve and the unjustified sanctions against the Iranian nation will subside. Considering the strength that Rouhani has in foreign policy this is a reason for hope today. I hope western powers and American politicians would carefully evaluate current developments and find a way to change their one-sided approach on Iran.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Presidential Elections Ahead/ Prudent Coalition

Now that I have been disqualified on political pretexts, to run for Council elections in Tehran, I have been  spending more time on the concurrent presidential elections. Former President Khatami has now, for the past 7 months, convened a Council of Advisers to decide on a road map for the future. A strong and unified presence for the nationwide council elections and a wise decision on presidential elections has been pursued by this group and other remaining Reformist political groups.

Although many well known Reformist figures were disqualified for council elections in major cities like Tehran, yet Reformists have managed to produce an alliance among their groups and give a 31 person list for Tehran as well as many other cities. This is the result of months of tireless efforts of many political activists who have payed the heavy price of Reformist activism in Iran.

After weeks of campaigning Dr.Aref was asked to resign from his candidacy to open way for a coalition of moderate and reformist groups on Dr.Hassan Rouhani . His  justified resignation created new waves of hope for prudent  political activism. Now, we have only one remaining day for election campaigning.
Restrictions on Reformist activities continue, yet we will proceed to the final stage.