May 2011 Q&A
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 by Reza Pahlavi
Viewed 14360 times
Question 1) In the past few months we have seen a reduction in the monthly Q&A. In the beginning there was a lot more questions because there was a link on the home page of the site. I suggest you do that again and extend the number of the days which participants can post questions (15 days for a month is not enough). Hossein, Iran
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Hossein, I am so glad to see you take part in the monthly Q&A and I like your idea to extend the Q&A period, when possible we will extend this by a few days. However I would like to ask you and other fellow Iranians who take time and participate in this forum to invite your friends and family to also take part. The cause of Iran has no simple answers and it is through collaboration and getting involved that we will one day soon free our beloved country.
Question 2) Usually important politicians have a number of consultants and associates. This is the right [of] your supports to know about them and their involvement. Please tell us about them and their responsibilities (one of the reasons for your father's departure was because of the [disingenuous] people around him). Mohammad, Iran
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Mohammad, I work with Iranians across the political spectrum and we all work for a common cause: the freedom of Iran. Many of the people that I work with are in fact in Iran and I am sure as you can appreciate their anonymity must be protected. With regards to my executive staff, my team is made of people who are dedicating their lives in fighting for our cause.
Question 3) Greetings, I wanted to know your thought regarding the words below: Alireza Pahlavi, Constitutional Monarchy, Republic, Gaza, Saadaat, Liberalism, Cyrus the Great, Prophet Ali, Twelfth Imam, Niavaran Palace, Dariush, Prophet Reza, Zoroastrianism. With thanks. Parsi, Iran
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Persian, Thank you for your question and asking about so many important topics. Your selections represent a mixture of topics personal to me (family and place) and to our nation’s history (religion and past rulers), and to our nations future (political structures). Were there sufficient time in this format, I would be happy to expand on each of these in more detail, because they are relevant to our past and our future. However, due to space limitations I am afraid I cannot cover these topics in sufficient detail to satisfy your genuine desire to know my opinions on them. Having said that, I do also feel that perhaps the best thing we can do is to focus on the future of our nation, and to concentrate all our time and effort on freeing our beloved country.
Question 4) There is a big question facing our youth; Who are the members of the council of the Green movement? Is it reasonable for us not to know who the Greens follow? Have you as a follower of the Greens accepted the leadership of an unknown group? Are you a member of the Council of the Green Hope? Pardis Irani, Tehran
Reza Pahlavi: The Green movement is a movement that encompasses different viewpoints. They came to the streets to show their protest to the ruling system and also show the world that they are seeking freedom and democracy, and it is clear that the overwhelming majority of them saw the hope for freedom only achievable beyond this current regime. Unfortunately due to the harsh repression by the regime they were not able to realize their democratic demands. I shared my support of this movement – and continue to - but at no point claimed the leadership of the movement, nor am I a member of any council.
Question 5) Greetings respected Prince. You mention that due to the bipartisan role that you have, you cannot be the leader of one political spectrum. Do you believe you can accept the leadership of those who share your belief? Meaning the supporters of a bipartisan system. If so, do you have a plan to organize such supporters? How so? Chista.
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Chista, As I am sure you have noticed there are participants from various backgrounds, political and religious beliefs in this forum who are working to help create an alternative to the current regime in Iran. As I have said on many occasions, I see my role more as an impartial catalyst rather than one of partisan approach.
Question 6) Dear Prince, please listen to this link, the program for May 5th, part three, minute 43 which describes the difference between Secularism and Laïcité. I would like to know your thoughts. With respect, Alireza, Paris
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Alizadeh, The link you provided is not to a particular media file or an article but to the entire site. However allow me to be more extensive on an issue that is of high importance to the future of our country. The discussion on laïcité and secularism follows three tracks: (1) Etymology, or the origins of the words; (2) Usage, and how the concepts have evolved over time; and (3) What do we want for tomorrow’s Iran.
a. laïcité is a noun formed by adding the suffix -ité to the Latin adjective lāicus, loanword from the Greek λᾱϊκός (lāïkós "of the people", "layman"), the adjective from λᾱός (lāós "people").
I.e the word applies to that which relates to “lay” people, not priests. In short it means unclerical (which is not the same thing as anticlerical.)
b. The word Secular derives from the Latin word saecularis, meaning of a generation, belonging to an age. Since this is an ephemeral concept, about that which could change in generational periods, it came to signify those matters that cannot be about religion (which is about eternal truths.)
Notice that laïcité denotes the exclusion of clerics, or the institution they represent; i.e. the church. The word secular, however, is about concepts (temporal as opposed to eternal). It was not originally about an institution or its members. In fact the Roman Catholic church referred to secular clerics as those who did not withdraw to monasteries, did not join a regular order, lived amongst lay people and addressed temporal concerns.
a. laïcité been used, from the end of the 19th century on, to mean the freedom of public institutions, especially primary schools, from the influence of the Catholic Church in countries where it had retained its influence. Today, the concept covers other religious movements as well.
Proponents assert laïcité is based on respect for freedom of thought. Thus the absence of a state religion, and the subsequent separation of the state and Church, is considered a prerequisite for such freedom of thought. They maintain that laïcité is thus distinct from anti-clericalism, which actively opposes the influence of religion and the clergy. Laïcité relies on the division between private life, where adherents believe religion belongs, and the public sphere, in which each individual, adherents believe, should appear as a simple citizen equal to all other citizens, devoid of ethnic, religious or other particularities.
Critics of laïcité argue that it is a disguised form of anticlericalism and infringement on individual right to religious expression, and that, instead of promoting freedom of thought and freedom of religion, it prevents the believer from observing his or her religion.
In Europe today, the controversy often centers around banning of wearing hijab, taxpayers' rights to religious choice in education services and restrictions placed on the construction of new mosques.
b. British secular movement grew in mid nineteenth century in close relation to Chartism (direct democracy) and socialism (Owenism.) Indeed, Holyoake, the founder or the secular movement in Britain had been a Chartist and a follower of Robert Owen. The objection of the secular movement to the church was intimately tied to resistance against all pre-ordained privilege, including aristocracy and wealth. Thus, as compared to laïcité which was a product of enlightment, here it was embodied in the working class and fueled by the quest for equality.
Thus secularism of America’s founding fathers shared more with the French than the British in terms of class and intellectual origin. But not in terms of what it prescribed. For American secularism was principally about prohibiting the state from interfering with free exercise of religion, rather than requiring the state to stamp out symbols of religion from public life.
3. Secularism and the Future of Iranian Politics
There is a sharp line that divides two arenas of politics: The voluntary and the mandatory.
If a man stands in the middle of a park and lectures whoever would listen on why they should support a law or a certain candidate in the name of Islam, he is engaged in political activity. To stop him would stamp out freedom of speech. If he joins others and together they work for a candidate on the basis of their common faith, stopping them would trample on freedom of assembly. Even if they form a political party based on their faith, outlawing their activity would be against freedom of organization.
But religion could enter politics in even more subtle ways, through beliefs and values. Thus separating religion from the voluntary arena of politics would require more than violation of basic human rights. It would require secular inquisitionists who see fit to search people’s minds and motives.
The mandatory side of politics is an entirely different matter. This is where legislation, regulation of public affairs and all its means of implementation and enforcement reside, i.e. the State. It is when one leaves the voluntary arena and enters the mandatory side of politics where there should be a big stop sign for religion or any ideology. For the entry of any peremptory belief system would serve the interest of its adherents above others, and thus bring inequality of citizens with different beliefs before the law.
Iran of tomorrow belongs to free men and women who bow before no privilege and accept no discrimination. We cannot, and will not accept any system that does not ensure equality of all before the law.
Question 7) Our beloved king, Your Majesty. How can we get rid of the Muslim fanatics in Iran, they have destroyed our country more than 1400 years ago. We all pray that Pahlavi´s Dynasty retain to Iran. God bless your father and Grandfather. Best respects. Azadparast, Norway
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Azadparast: In an educated and free society all religious beliefs are valued, respected and individuals are less likely to become radical towards a particular belief. I also believe that a free and active press is an important antidote to radicalism. A free press pursues abuses at the fringe of society and questions their existence and logic. A free press serves to secure a moderate mainstream by representing all viewpoints and encouraging open debate.
Question 8) Greetings, How much do you believe in religious matters? Do you, like your father, see yourself as a Muslim and is your mother a Saadddat (descendant of the prophet)? The people of Iran are religious people. In a secular form of government what should one do if the law is indifferent than Islam? With thanks, Hossein, Iran
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Hossein, Religion is a private and personal matter and its privacy should be respected. Secularism is simply a separation of state and mosque. It does not mean that the state is hostile to religion. It simply means that the state respects the right to worship freely the religion of one’s choice (and even the right to not worship any religion.) Conversely, religion is removed from the workings of the state, which exists to meet the basic needs of the people, manage the economy and engage in foreign affairs.
I have also argued many times that Islam in a secular state will fare better than it has under the clerical regime in Iran. So many countless atrocities have been committed by the government of the Islamic Republic in the name of religion that many Iranians have turned away from their faith and Islam itself has been given a terrible reputation in the eyes of the young generation. If Islam has any hope of being truly worshiped by Iranians, then it must be freed from the yoke of government, which commits so many murders and abuses in its name. Secularism is the only way to save our nation and Islam.
Please also view Question 6 in this Q&A for more information and also visit question three of the January Q&A, where I also discuss this topic. Thank you.
Question 9) Greetings, As you can not be the head of one political ideology and as it is required to keep your supporters and compatriots notified, taking into consideration that lack of time, can one be hopeful that we hold a weekly Facebook meeting? Saam
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Saam, It is always my intention, and I want to be in constant contact with my compatriots. I welcome every opportunity that I can have, with every Iranian, regardless of political belief. However, as I am sure you can appreciate, this is a bit difficult for me to commit to on a regular basis; when time permits I will certainly arrange for us to meet.
Question 10) Greetings, You as a supporter of freedom and democracy what action plan do you have for achieving your aspirations and that of your supporters?
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Parviz, As stated in question 6 of January Q & A, I have explained my vision of tomorrow's Iran, and I have written three books on this which may be found on my website. I encourage you to read my books as I have answered all these questions. However, I am not seeing myself as a political leader in the sense of offering you a political program - that will be the job of whomever will end up being in charge of the government of Iran in the future, either the prime minister or president. What defines the limitations of power will be the constitution and I do not see any role for myself as an elected official to play a role in the governance of the country.
My only vision right now is the unity of all secular minded people who seek a secular parliamentary democracy for Iran as the opposition to this regime, and the overall premise of the campaign being based on non-violence civil resistance with international cooperation.