Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Spotlight: Hooman Majd

Apologies for the recent absence from the blogosphere, I've had a lot going on, moving, etc.

But last night I went along to the LSE for a lecture that US based journalist and writer Hooman Majd was giving, called "the path to an Islamic democracy", where Majd would be giving "a brief summary of how Iran's political system works, examples of what is most misunderstood about Iran, its leadership and the events leading up to the election". This immediately made me rather wary, as everytime someone declare's Iran's political system as being "misunderstood", they nearly always end up apologising for the regime. I wasn't wrong, read on.

The lecture eventually got underway and one of the first things Majd said was "Iran is not monolithic or a dictatorship", but later in his lecture he said "when I was in Iran I spoke to an ex-Basiji who stuffed ballot boxes for Ahmadinejad and now he wants to stuff ballot boxes for Mousavi", all the while with a smile on his face and the audience laughing. This really summed up the entire meeting, he would try to pass off all of the Islamic Republic's fascism as a joke, whilst insisting that deep down they were fundamentally decent and trying to work for good.

He also relied a lot on the same tired clichés that circulate in the media, statements like Ahmadinejad is popular with the working class and rural folk, Khatami was a reformer who was blocked unfairly, the people of Iran don't want western style liberal democracy they want Islamic democracy and so on, only rich North Tehran kids want secularism, etc, ad nauseum. All rather extraordinary claims. Majd (and most of the audience it seems) seem to forget that this hero of the working classes, Ahmadinejad is also the same man who sanctioned the imprisonment of bus driver union activists in Iran over the past few weeks and who has a cabinet with the likes of billionaire Interior Minister Mahsouli who has a very working class, er, mansion and millionaire businessman Seyyed Hassan Mir Kazemi.

He also seems to overlook the fact that over the past few weeks in Iran people have been shouting "Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic", in direct contrast to 1979 when they used to shout "Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic", as well as the endless shouts of "Death to the Islamic Republic" that abound in Iran today. The fact of the matter is that Iranians are sick of the idea of "Islamic democracy", whether it come from idealists like Ali Shariati or thugs like Khamenei. What's obvious is that fanatical adherence to religious law is contrary to democracy, and the Islamic Republic is unwilling to change or become more moderate, as Khamenei himself said last Friday. Contrary to what Majd thinks "Islamic democracy" is indeed an oxymoron.

Majd also attempted some serious historical revisionism during his lecture, for example, did you know that according to Majd, Khomeini would have been against today's rigged election, and he would have prefered to see a democratic state? :) A very similar stance to another useless reformist, Mehdi Karroubi, who also lost my respect for his sheer idiocy in not realising that Khomeini was the original Islamic Republic fascist, a man for whom democracy was an alien Western construct, and who stated that "...don't listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things".

Majd also touched upon the subject of sanctions being imposed upon the Islamic Republic. At this point he began to sound much like the Mehri Honarbins and Ali Fathollah-Nejads and the rest of the CASMII lot who do a good job of apologising for the Regime, whom I encountered a few months ago. For example according to Majd sanctions were increasing Iran's pollution as they wouldn't allow Iran to convert to cleaner energy supplies. He made no mention of why or how Iran has become that polluted or why no one's done anything about it, he simply stated that the lack of equipment and such was due to sanctions. Nothing said about the corruption within the system, the Mullahs plundering Iran's wealth and so on which could be used to combat pollution. And predictably enough he is a member of CASMII. It's a small world :)

Going back to what Majd said about Iran "not being a dictatorship", when a member of the audience asked him to clarify what he meant by that Majd said that basically Iran can't be a dictatorship because "opposition figures such as Mousavi, Khatami, etc" exist. My frustration then reached boiling point and I got up and told him that his misunderstanding arises because he thinks Khatami (whom Majd is related to) and Moussavi are actually opposed to the Islamic Republic and Khamenei. What Majd fails to realise, or at least fails to say, is that these men are devoted servants of the regime, Khatami being Minister of Islamic Guidance for a decade during which time he censored independent publications, newspaper, film, etc and Moussavi being Prime Minister during the 1988 massacre of tens of thousands of political prisoners. After I said all this to Majd, and had given him irrevocable proof that these men are not "opposing" the regime, they are part and parcel of it, what I got back was a very weak "people can change" and that "he [Majd] does not support the brutalisation, but he can't ever win, because the Islamic Republic views him as against them and the Iranian diaspora view him as for the Regime". He's got that one right, to quote Margaret Thatcher: "standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides."

To sum up, Hooman Majd seems like a nice guy on the outside, I don't doubt that he'd be fun to grab a beer with, however, when you scratch beneath the surface a little you start to realise that all of his rhetoric and sophistry is actually a subtle machine trying to feed you the Islamic Republic's reformist propaganda. For further reading, I'd suggest this interview with Majd in Salon magazine, in which he yet again reaffirms that most Iranians do not want to see the end of the Islamic Regime, and that they want "reform within the system". Majd is not as blunt as Darius Guppy, but there is no doubt that he is yet another Western based individual who is defending the fascist Mullah regime.

Comments are most welcome

23 comments:

  1. Arash, first off, your statements about Hooman Majd are completely unfounded and misguided. But that doesn't surprise me.

    You make many statements but fail to back up any of them.


    "He also relied a lot on the same tired clichés that circulate in the media, statements like Ahmadinejad is popular with the working class and rural folk, Khatami was a reformer who was blocked unfairly, the people of Iran don't want western style liberal democracy they want Islamic democracy and so on, only rich North Tehran kids want secularism, etc, ad nauseum."

    Those are not cliches. I live in Tehran and during the protests, the majority of the people were young upper middle class kids and girls who would come out and protest for Mousavi, the candidate they voted for, but who lost. Now I am not saying that other people weren't protesting, but for the most part, the people that voted for Mousavi were middle upper class.

    Ahmadinejad is very popular with the working class, everyone in Iran who is poor likes Ahmadinejad. That is not a cliche like you put it, its the truth. He is a classical populist, he came from poor roots himself, and is not holding a powerful office. His story is one that can happen to anyone in Iran who is in the lower poor classes. You can deny that all the time and say that they are cliches, but again, you don't show any evidence as to this issue, you just say its true and expect people to believe you because you're a dissident.

    Khatami was a reformer, he did many good things, but a lot of the things he tried to do were unfairly blocked I believe. He won and unfortunately the conservatives had the majority in Parliament. I believe he was still a good president and he is a good person who is still widely liked in Iran by all.

    And for the last time, show PROOF that Iranians want a western style democracy in Iran. Please provide PROOF, don't say something its true because you want it to be true. I have never met a person in Tehran or Esfahan or Abadan where I have family that wants a system like the one in the west. On the contrary, western style democracy is not something that has much support in iran. Having certain freedoms for Iranians is not synonymous with people wanting a western style government.

    You also make a peculiar claim that because Ahmadinejad is a populist, he can't associate with rich people, or have rich people in his cabinet. Bill Clinton was a populist, he came from a middle class background, and made it all the way to the top, yet he surrounded himself with wealthy people who helped direct his policies. There is nothing wrong with that. So you claim that just because Iran's president is a populist, he can't have rich people in his cabinet? What kind of logical reasoning is that?

    Again, you claim that people in Iran are shouting things from the rooftops at night. I live in Tehran, I have NEVER heard people shout anything at night. Other than the hum of traffic at night, you don't hear a thing. Again, you don't know because you are in the UK, you just say it because its convenient, and because other dissidents tell you its true.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Continued from above.....

    "The fact of the matter is that Iranians are sick of the idea of "Islamic democracy", whether it come from idealists like Ali Shariati or thugs like Khamenei."

    Prove it! I hate people like you who opinionate on something, but have NO evidence to back it up! Seriously, get some evidence, and then post something like you have above which is a blatant lie.

    So let me get this right, you WANT sanctions imposed on Iran? You want Iranians to suffer because of sanctions? is that what you are saying? Why would any honest, and stable minded Iranian want their country to be under sanctions? This is a PERFECT example of why dissidents are hated in Iran. You want the people of Iran to suffer, so you can look good for your UK friends who accept you as one of them.

    My frustration then reached boiling point and I got up and told him that his misunderstanding arises because he thinks Khatami (whom Majd is related to) and Moussavi are actually opposed to the Islamic Republic and Khamenei.

    Majd is related to Khatami? Link please? Or is this one of your statements we have to accept? I will wait for a link on this.

    And for the last time, you use the word fascist so easily and yet it's completely misguided in this context.

    ReplyDelete
  3. SZ, are you starting again?

    Hooman Majd is related to Khatami because he told a lecture theatre full of people so. But if you still think I'm lying, then here:

    http://tinyurl.com/m7hz96

    My point with regards to Ahmadinejad was that he is not a hero of the working classes. I showed you the evidence that he is actually opposed to worker's rights.

    "Everyone in Iran who is poor likes Ahmadinejad". Right, I want a source for that, I want a source showing every single poor person in Iran supports Ahmadinejad.

    My evidence was in the videos showing people are sick of the Islamic Republic. If you want I can post further videos showing people shouting death to dictator, death to Khamenei, election not selection, etc. But unless you've been in a coma since June you really should have seen them yourself.

    I said that Ahmadinejad is not a hero of the working classes. He is working within a system that provides obscene amounts of money through corruption to senior figures, and yes I posted the sources to that from the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

    Also, you haven't heard people shout anything because you only watch PressTV. Maybe you should type "Iran protest" into Youtube and see what happens.

    I am not in favour of sanctions affecting Iran's people whilst bolstering the regime but YET AGAIN you miss the point in your eagerness to defend the Mullahs. My point was that Majd, like all the other regime apologists, blames Iran's economic problems ONLY on sanctions and NOT on the insane corruption in Iran which I have sourced.

    Also, if you hate me, you know what the solution is right? Get the hell off my blog and save us both some time. Seriously, what kind of masochist actually spends time on people he "hates"? I assure you, if you leave I will not feel offended.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You have a good blog; keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hooman majd is related to Khatami through marriage. He is not a blood relative, and on top of that, they are not really involved with each other. It's like my saying your uncle's wife was bad, so you are bad. talk about faulty logic.

    So you claim that just because a union leader was arrested, Ahmadinejad is responsible for it? Really? So the President is anti workers rights because of this one event? Wow, talk about generalizing.


    Ahmadinejad won the election by 11 million votes, that should be proof enough that he has the support of the rural population. And, you don't post any evidence for your claim that Mousavi won, but you want proof from me that Ahmadinejad won? At least I live here and see whats going on daily, you just think you know what's going on.

    "My evidence was in the videos showing people are sick of the Islamic Republic. If you want I can post further videos showing people shouting death to dictator, death to Khamenei, election not selection, etc. But unless you've been in a coma since June you really should have seen them yourself."

    HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA....that's your evidence? some young rich kids with fancy phones post videos on youtube, and You claim that this is representative of the WHOLE COUNTRY? hahahahahahahahahaha..man, I almost fell out of my chair at the office. You really think that the youtube and twitter crowds are representative of Iran and its people? Really? if thats what you believe, then I can't say anything to you.

    You deride me for reading presstv, but you post sources from Forbes and the Wall Street Journal? The two most conservative bastions in the United States paper press, and you post them as reliable and unbiased sources on Iran. Talk about being ignorant. Seriously, you are either ignorant, or playing this game on purpose for other means.

    "Also, you haven't heard people shout anything because you only watch PressTV. Maybe you should type "Iran protest" into Youtube and see what happens."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH..for the last time, I LIVE IN TEHRAN! we don't hear ANYTHING because we LIVE HERE. I don't have to watch TV. every night, nobody on our street has heard anything other than the hum of traffic at night! Seriously, stop spreading lies and listening to anti-Iranian press and claiming that they are speaking the truth.

    You posted that in Mashad, there is corruption with regards to the shrine of our religion. Isn't that everywhere? There is corruption with regards to religion everywhere in every country. And once again, even if you claim corruption, don't post articles from Iran's ARCH enemy! what is wrong with you? How can you claim that the Wall Street Journal is a reliable source for anything regarding Iran? I know you don't believe that, you just play a dumb Iranian dissident in the UK online. I know that's not really you.

    You offend me with your lies about Iran, and its government. You offend me with your "sources" that you give a 100% credence to. You offend me when you claim that youtube is representative of Iranians all over Iran. you offend me when you claim twitter is your source. You offend me when you list forbes as your source for Iran related articles. You offend me when you say that anyone who doesn't agree with you is a criminal by association. you offend me when you claim Iran's government is fascist without having been in Iran your whole life. You offend me when you claim to know Iran because you watch youtube and read dissident blogs.


    http://americanidiocity.blogspot.com/

    Read a real blog, at least it has some unbiased opinions about the world and Iran.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Firstly: Where is your source for "all the poor in Iran like Ahmadinejad"?

    I didn't say he was bad because he was related to him, I simply stated that he WAS related to him, which is a fact :)

    Actually, many union activists were arrested. It is an indication of the fact that Ahmadinejad does not care for improving worker's rights. If you actually read the sources you'd realise that.

    If you think the Wall Street Journal has an "agenda" or whatever, that's your problem. The rest of the world knows that the WSJ and Forbes are highly respected on economic matters. I'll be listening to them, and not you, thanks. Honestly, go and tell anyone in academia that the Wall Street Journal is an "unreliable" source and you'll get laughed out the office.

    "Shrine of your religion"?! What the hell? You didn't even read the article did you? It's got nothing to do with just one shrine, it's talking about the corruption with Iranian bonyads which control immense amounts of Iran's wealth.

    Also: When have I ever cited Twitter as a source? Also: When did I tell you I'd never been to Iran?

    I don't give a damn if I offend you, like I said, you are at total liberty to leave whenever you like, and I hope you understand that I really don't mind if you do not post here any longer.

    Seriously, feel free to go, I will carry on posting "offensive" things. I refuse to change my views as I know that I am right, and all freedom lovers and democrats also agree with me. If you can't handle it, that's your problem.

    No amount of insults or attacks from you will change that, so maybe you should just save yourself some time and leave. But don't accuse me of "offending" you when you VOLUNTARILY choose to spend time posting comments.

    MEHRTASH: Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. For the last time, Ahmadinejad is a TWO term president, I would say he has a pretty large base of support. You off course ignore this.

    You implied hooman majd was a bad person, and to say he is related to Khatami is disingenuous. You should have said, that he is related through marriage to Khatami. That is more accurate.

    So Union Activists being arrested in an indication that the president of Iran personally doesn't care about workers rights? Really? Thats why he is a two time president elect and former mayor of Tehran? Because he doesn't care about the people...riiight.....

    I never said on economic issues the Wall Street Journal is not a reliable and great source. I said on Issues related to Iran, the American Media is in general biased. This is Especially true for the right leaning Wall Street Journal and Forbes, whose founder, Steve Forbes has advocated attacks against Iran and heavier sanctions against Iran.

    Nice of you to distort my statement. I never said on economic issues, those sources weren't good. But for you to list them as sources on Iran, or on Iranian issues, is laughable. But you don't care because you are right, after all, you dissidents have been right for 30 years! haha.

    You list Youtube as a source!!! seriously, what decent logical person would site Youtube as a source. what's next, you'll site your fortuneteller as a source? And you don't have to tell me you haven't been to Iran, I can tell by your words and opinions. You are wrong on so many levels, and so misinformed on so many levels, that it's plainly obvious you have never been to Iran.

    "Seriously, feel free to go, I will carry on posting "offensive" things. I refuse to change my views as I know that I am right, and all freedom lovers and democrats also agree with me. If you can't handle it, that's your problem."

    that is EXACTLY my point. You THINK you are right, you THINK you are clearly correct on Iran when you are totally disconnected from reality and from the Iran. You say all freedom lovers and democrats agree with you!!! You must mean all WESTERN freedom lovers and democrats agree with you! Because believe me, dissidents are the minority, afterall, there is a reason you don't live in Iran. Because your views don't hold water in Iran, they are empty flat out lies.

    Keep thanking people like Mehrtash, who is your fellow dissident. Keep posting on "Winston's" blog, who blatantly calls the American President a Marxist because he doesn't agree with him. Like I said before, you are surrounded with people who are dissidents in the UK, and you think you are in the majority! I mean, come on you list YOUTUBE as your source and claim that its reliable!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...then you wonder why your cause hasn't been advanced in 30 years since the Evil Shah left Iran.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm still waiting on your source for "all the poor in Iran like Ahmadinejad".

    "Bad person", what the hell? How old are you? Grow up. I'm sure Mr Majd won't run to his Mummy because I disagree with him. I never said he was a "bad person", I said that he is a regime apologist (which he is).

    WSJ was reporting on Iran's ECONOMY (aka: an "economic issue"), I trust the reporting of both Forbes and WSJ as does the rest of the intelligent world. If you don't, that's your problem. Seriously, if you're waiting for me to quote PressTV, don't hold your breath.

    I list Youtube as a source. Great. Sky News, Al Jazeera, BBC etc have all used Youtube videos out of Iran just like me. Do you know why? Because your beloved Islamic Republic censors the media that show what REALLY happens in Iran. So you can't expect IRIB to show this stuff.

    There is no such thing as a "Western" or "Eastern" democrat or freedom lover. You either believe in it or you don't, simple as. I do. If you don't, that's cool, but don't accuse me of "offending you".

    ReplyDelete
  9. SZ, you are a big liar. I know for a fact people shout "Allah u akbar" along with "Death to dictator" every single night.

    Get the hell off this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Arash, good work btw.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anon,

    You know for a fact huh? What part of Iran do you live in? Where have you heard these shouts?

    You say I am lying, I am telling you what I hear or in this case not hear every night in our neighborhood. What proof do you have, and what makes you say I am a liar?

    And by the way, nice of you to post as anonymous, really shows your true nature.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am still waiting for your evidence of voter fraud. I want you to show that Mousavi won the election. Your intellectually dishonest discourse may be enough for other dissidents in the UK, but it doesnt cut it in Iran. Ahmadinejad own the election, the burden of proof is on you, not on me. I am not the one claiming fraud and claiming that my candidate won, when he really lost.

    Idiot! what don't you understand about the Wall Street Journal being a BIASED source on Iran. The United States is an enemy of Iran, how can you even with a straight face claim that the WSJ is a reliable source for Iranian news. They do have an agenda against iran, that much everyone knows. Off course you won't quote presstv, i don't expect you to, but you only quote western sources, and then deride me for using presstv.

    Again, you cannot generalize video clips from youtube to the whole country. You list one or two or even a handful of videos taken by young rich kids, and claim that the whole country is up in flames. That is a flat out LIE. you are a liar, and an immoral person who bends the truth to suit your own needs. And the reason we kicked out the western media is because they were not being honest and fair to Iran during the protests. They protests were just that, a group of people who were angry that their candidate lost the election. They came out and protested, and were for the most part peaceful. This happened in a couple of cities and it was about 1 million people. You want to make people believe that the country was rising up against the government, when in reality, there was no such thing. That is exactly what the western media did, they made it bigger than it actually was. They were lying. You sir, are a LIAR.

    And you may believe in freedom, but you demonize people who don't agree with you as fascists and apologizers. If you love freedom so much, let Iran be what it is. Unlike your closed minded view, Iranians are actually quite happy with their government, they want to improve it like I do, and make it better, but we don't want western style secular democracy. You do, great, stay in the Uk, and live there, but don't be judgmental and assume that you know what other Iranians want.

    ReplyDelete
  13. SZ:

    I'm STILL WAITING FOR YOUR SOURCE about "all poor people in Iran like Ahmadinejad". WHERE IS IT?

    I thought I told you I don't care what you think of me. If you think I'm a liar that is TOTALLY OKAY. But why do you waste your time here then? Go do something else.

    I also told you I will NEVER source PressTV. If you don't like me citing "bad" sources like the Wall Street Journal (are you for real btw?) then you know where to go. NOBODY else has a problem with it, except you.

    I've given you a good source in the past about voting fraud, I'll give it again. It is edited by the guy in charge of the Islamic Republic funded Iran Institute at St Andrews University, so you can't say it's biased.

    http://tinyurl.com/ogdjat

    Uh yeah, generally people who don't agree with me, i.e. with freedom and democracy ARE fascists. Well done. I don't presume to know precisely what Iranians want. That's why I advocate transparent democracy in Iran to let them choose :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Arash, well written. Hooman Majd also appeared on David Frost's show. Its on YouTube - just search David Frost Hooman Majd. The interview starts 8 mins into the clip.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sa'adatabad, near kaaj square. and another place near valiasr (zafaraniye).

    ReplyDelete
  16. Who was the audience Arash? Was it the usual bunch of useful idiots we saw at SOAS when Honarbin blamed everything on sanctions?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Azarmehr:

    There were many Iranians there, along with the usual clueless bunch of Western students who don't know anything about Iran except what Majd, CASMII & Co tell them.

    On the whole, it seemed like Majd's lecture was very well received, most of the Iranians in the audience were clapping hard for him and they went out afterward to get copies of his book. I think only one two other Iranians except me bothered to question his warped point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Its never occurred to you that your point of view is the one thats warped..Nope, everyone else is wrong, you're right, and you have no evidence to back up your claim.....but that doesn't matter because you're a democrat lover!!!!!

    hahahahaha...your humorous

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yep, I like democracy, most people do. It's a strange world, eh? I gave tonnes of evidence, you gave ZERO.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Arash jan thank you for this thorough report. Hooman Majd is a fraudster and deeply vested in keeping the status quo.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous: You are more than welcome, thank you for that kind comment :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. آرش جان مطلب شما بسيار عالی بود، من در حال ساخت فيلمی مستند از هومان مجد هستم، لطفاً هر گونه اطلاعاتی از اين شخص داريد با من تماس بگيريد . با تشكر

    http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/profile.php?ref=profile&id=100000595042616

    amir.ali88@ymail.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello,
    I actually enjoyed Mr. Majd’s book immensely and then e-mailed him with some objections. He was very kind and tried to explain as much as one can via e-mail but a lot of his arguments were inconclusive. In fact I e-mailed him several times and he was kind and responsive even when I attacked him on my first e-mail. Unfortunately I do have to agree with you Arash, I think because of his relationship with Khatami he insists on pushing Islamic democracy. I even mentioned it in my e-mail to him that he has a relationship with this regime which offended him slightly and he told me last time he was in Iran, he was interrogated. I was under the impression the young people of Iran are sick of Islamic anything; however I have not walked the streets of Tehran for 30 years and Mr. Majd clearly states that people like me are totally irrelevant in regards to his book. My feelings for him is a paradox, I like him and think he is a brilliant writer but I disagree with a lot of his opinions and ideology. I consider him to be an apologist without apologizing.I am looking forward to his second book that will be coming out later this year.

    ReplyDelete

Please bear in mind that comments which are offensive to myself or other users will not be published. Also, if you wish to post links, please use tinyurl.com to shorten them. Thanks!