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Signs of a Lasting Revolution.

Summary: The Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced two demonstrators of the recent troubles that have perturbed the country since the contested election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to death by hanging.

In doing so, the clerics who rule Iran have proved once again that they are neither a republic, nor Islamic.In democracies governments do not kill their own citizens for partaking in demonstrations; even violent ones. Resorting to the death penalty is indeed a sign of weakness on the part of the establishment who fear its opponents to the point that it chooses to end a life, knowing that this is the only way to silence a voice of discontent. The death penalty is the extreme form of censorship. It is also a weapon of terror, meant to send a message to others. Mess with the state and this is what will happen to you.

But what the ayatollahs, much as others before them, fail to understand is that a government can only muzzle its people for so long. Turning against one's own people has never led any government to ultimate victory. One may, of course, point to exceptions, such as Cuba and North Korea, I would call them oddities, not exceptions, because the final victory is not in the hands of those in power. What is very likely to happen in Cuba after Fidel Castro dies and in North Korea after Kim Jong-Il dies is that their legacy will in all probability die with them. A true revolution and a true revolutionary leaves a lasting legacy for generations to come. Examples: the French Revolution of 1789 with its three powerful words -liberty, equality and fraternity -that still drive modern day French politics. Or yet the American Revolution and the American Constitution its founding fathers created is truly a masterpiece in political engineering. The American Constitution was centuries ahead of its time. It foresaw all the potential dangers that may crop up in a democracy and tried to place guardrails against them. And it has worked for the most part. America and American democracy is far from perfect but the Constitution remains a marvel of modern political thought.

Ever wonder why millions continue to be drawn to the shores of America every year? Immigrants to the United States today are very different from those who arrived by the boatloads from Ireland and Italy over a hundred years ago. Immigrants today are very likely to hold advanced degrees in the sciences and the arts. A large part of Iranians living in the Unites States today are college-educated people who left their country because they could not continue to live in an oppressive society. Their departure from their native land, just like other nationals who fled oppression in other parts of the world where free thought is punishable and free speech can lead to the scaffold, is a great loss for their countries and a win for America who gains new minds and new ideas, without which a society withers and eventually perishes.

The mullahs and associated psychopaths may rejoice today at the exodus of what they see as troublemakers, people who think differently than they do. But this brain drain will in the end hurt the country's ability to compete in the international arena. Of course, a country needs farmers and common folk, but it desperately needs to safeguard its intellectuals. What is a country without thinkers and scholars? Think for a moment at what makes American universities the best in the world. In the end the executioners have to remember that throughout history free thought always prevails. But how do you convince those who have not bothered to read their history and remain immersed in their ignorance and rejoice when a diverging opinion swings from a lamppost?

Claude Salhani is editor of the Middle C East Times. He is currently on C assignment in Kazakhstan

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 2, 2010
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