Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mired In The Middle Ages

File:Map of the Achaemenid Empire.jpg
Ancient Persia has a magnificent and an ancient heritage. Modern Persia not so much.

With the Islamic Revolution the country under its new ruling Ayatollahs seemed to regress rather than progress socially. Iran's parochial concerns with its Shia traditions and its animosity toward the larger Sunni populations outside its borders, allied with its xenophobic attitude toward the outside world and its close embrace of Islamism earns it the reputation of a closed society.

Any country ruled by elite religious figures who consider themselves the supreme authority on politics, technology, social conditions and external relations and who bind themselves to the rigid traditions of religious fascism represents of its very nature, a totalitarian one that rejects human rights for its population.

Under the authority of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as religious head and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as political head, there is the spectacle of the hornet and the scorpion. There is a struggle for power and authority between the two figures, even while the Supreme Leader remains the titular head of state and the religious authority.

Iran's president, who exemplifies the country's rigid authoritarian stance and fervent religious devotion, while aspiring to acquire the annihilating properties of nuclear fission, believes himself to be the superior authority figure. While each supported the other's ambitions they were able to function as heads of government.

Now, it seems that the aspirations of each outdistances their usefulness to one another. It is hard to imagine which of the two is more fundamentally deluded. Both are intensely invested in fundamentalist Islam. The president is meant to take his orders from the Ayatollah, but it is clear that the President feels he should be junior to no one.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad feels his experience on the world stage and his ranking in the country gives him the authority to make decisions unauthorized by the Supreme Leader. Causing offence to those who support the Ayatollah, let alone Ali Khamenei himself. Each sponsors a different replacement as president for upcoming 'elections'.

This is a country that believes in the resurrection of a Hidden Imam, who will bring with him Armageddon; the ascension of the righteous to heaven and the destruction of the unworthy to dwell forever in the netherworld. Only those whom Shia Islam of the Iranian variety blesses will be saved; the lives of all others are forfeit for they are clearly undeserving.

This is a country where the political elite employ exorcists. Where Ahmadinejad's former spiritual mentor feels his pupil has been placed under an evil spell. "I am almost certain he has been bewitched", the ayatollah explained. Indubitably.

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