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The Green Movement: Harbinger of a New Democracy



 
In its tormented history of modernization, Iran has undergone three distinct types of social movement: the proto-democratic, the anti-democratic, and the democratic movements. The Constitutional Revolution is the paragon of the proto-democratic movement in which the democratic ideas had lost their luster in a mist of traditional or fundamentalist notions of governance. The Nationalist Movement of 1950s under the leadership of Mohammad Mossadegh can safely be considered the same type. An anti-democratic social movement emerged with the 1961 bloody demonstrations in Qom and Tehran against Shah’s “white revolution,” particularly its land reform and women’s rights projects. Nearly two decades later, the movement morphed into the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Slightly more than a decade later, the era of democratic movements is ushered in first by university   students’ bloody agitation against the Islamic republic and then by the Green Movement of 2009. These movements opposed the Islamic radicalism that emerged in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s during the authoritarian Pahlavi rule.  
 
The major demands and goals of the Green Movement may be considered as follows: Respect for the dignity and equality of the citizens regardless of their creed, ethnicity or social and economic status; Promotion of secular Islam which permits the separation of religion and government; Revival of a subculture of joyful life which would replace the «culture of mourning and martyrdom;» Rejection of violence as a political tool and espousal of  civil disobedience as means to democratic end; Rejection of gender inequality in all its shapes and forms, and; Renouncing all attempts to intervene in internal affairs of  other states and instead resumption of peaceful relations with the members of international community, particularly with democratic and progressive states.  
 
Judging by the determination of the leaders of Islamic regime to forcefully defy all challenges to the legitimacy and revolutionary nature of their rule, it seems highly improbable that the Green Movement, as it stands today, realize its demands and objectives in the near future. Conversely, it also seems highly unlikely that the Islamic Republic could ever regain its restore its erstwhile legitimacy, unity of purpose and internal stability. 
 

Author: 
فرهاد خسروخاور
Volume: 
۲۵
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