by Claude Salhani
Once again Iran’s ruling mullahs are worried about the future. Rather, they are worried about their own future.
Following the outbreak of violence in recent weeks, there is much that frightens the country’s rulers. Iran’s mullahs are worried about the internet and social media and they feel particularly threatened by the English language, the lingua franca of the internet.
On all the above counts the mullahs are spot on. They have every reason to be worried.
They have chosen to enter a war from which they cannot possibly emerge victorious. It is only a matter of time before the mullahs and their revolution become a thing of the past. Much like the regime they overthrew, the mullahs too will become obsolete in the not-too-distant future.
A good reason the mullahs governing Iran need to worry is because they are attempting to stop the natural instincts of man — to constantly learn and evolve. They are attempting to stop him from trying to find out more about himself and how better he would fare if he had the power to contribute more in society. It is this craving to have a say that has flamed revolts and revolutions since the beginning of organised governments.
It may come as no surprise because it is in man’s nature to seek a better tomorrow for himself and his family. The mullahs in Iran are, therefore, fighting a losing battle. It matters not how many guns, armoured cars, tanks and torturers they may have at their disposal.
History has shown there is no other way but to embrace some form of liberalism or democratic principles. It is inevitable for change to come to Iran, just as it has in many countries in the past. Successful revolutions are not measured by the amount of blood drawn but for their long-term gains.
From the Soviet Union to the People’s Republic of China and the former Soviet satellite states, change from autocracy to a more open and inclusive form of government has worked in favour of the citizens. Though many may argue that they have still a long way to go.
As someone who has travelled extensively throughout the Soviet Union and in the former Soviet republics, I can attest that the people are, on average, far better off today. That is not to say that the changes from communism or whatever form of dictatorship plagued these societies came about without problems or major headaches.
The mullahs ought to take a little time out and reflect on what Winston Churchill once said about democracy: It “is the worst form of government except all those others that have been tried.”
Following the demonstrations that had spread suddenly across the country since December 28, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei decreed that the teaching of English in Iranian primary schools would be banned.
As Iran tried to smother the first stirrings of a rebellion against the rule of the mullahs, the Islamic Republic showed it was clearly drawing the wrong conclusions. Its religious leaders and enforcers insist that the protests have been provoked by social media, so they are restricting access to the internet. They consider any fresh thoughts from the outside to be a threat.
Even as powerful an organisation as the Soviet KGB was unable to stem the spread of the social media of the Cold War era — Radio Free Europe. Think how much more difficult the task will be today.
As for banning the teaching of English in primary schools, the regime is only going to cause further hardships on its populace. Tehran’s decision to ban English language education in primary schools reflects a close-minded approach at home and towards the rest of the world.
It is a theocratic regime that sees bridges to the world as a threat to the anachronistic way of life it’s imposing on all Iranians.
It is a regime that promotes hostility to other cultures as it is a guarantee of continued rule. It is also a regime that lacks confidence in itself. It does not want its citizens to know there is a lot out there with different ideas and various possible narratives. By doing so, it is condemning itself to sclerosis and obsolescence.