x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Free to disagree

The Ayatollahs' Democracy shines a light on the political mores of Iran - and the US.

The Green Movement demonstrations in Iran last year were not about removing the ruling ayatollahs from power, Hooman Majd wants to stress, nor changing the fundamental structure of the government. Rather, they were reaffirmations of a belief in true Islamic democracy. "Islamic democracy guarantees nothing less than power vested in the people, accountability of a government to those people, and Islam as the guide in the establishment of laws", he writes.

His new book is a sequel of sorts to The Ayatollah Begs To Differ, a best-selling account of the mood in Iran before and after the 2009 election. Both books are designed for western audiences: in particular, readers in the United States. These readers might include the former vice president Dick Cheney and senator John McCain, who wanted the White House to support Iran's "pro-democracy" demonstrators. To that, Majd would answer that few of Washington's allies in the Middle East would tolerate such manifestations of opposition. Yes, it's probable that the Iranian elections were stolen. Some people thought the 2000 US elections were stolen as well, Majd points out.

* Raymond Beauchemin