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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-11-30 - 9:08 p.m.


Democratic Theocracy? - an oxymoron

A recent letter to the editor in the New York Times should help us to focus on a current problem. The Patriot Act gives our government permission to monitor what we check out of the library, what we read on the Internet, and, indeed, what I write in my blog. Will the day come when I will be unable to read without fear a book declared “blasphemous” by the moral majority and our mandated leader? Will the day come when we dare not write what we think in our blogs? Democratic theocracy – oxymoron, indeed! Not only we be frisked from head-to-toe as we enter an airplane, nothing on our computers will be safe from prying eyes? Will we watch our neighbors' comings and goings? And will they watch ours? Does this remind us of another time? I dread the day when non-Christians will wear a special patch on their sleeve.

Doesn't this remind you of Martin Niemoller’s famous quote:

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

* * * * * * * * * *

To the Editor:

Re "Iran's Lonely Crowd," by Farouz Farzami (Op-Ed, Nov. 27):

I left Iran 18 years ago, when I was 18. As a 14-year-old who was obsessed with political theory, Voltaire and Thomas Paine, and disgusted with my countrymen's illusions of establishing a "democratic theocracy" (an oxymoron, if there ever was one), I, too, had an experience with a banned book.

I wanted desperately to read a book that was heavily critical of the prophet, fundamentalist Islam and the ayatollahs. This book was declared blasphemous by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and one could be condemned for being a heretic and get the death penalty for possessing it. I was too afraid to keep it in our house, so I came up with the ingenious idea of tearing off the covers, reading it in a public park in Tehran and then burying it at a certain spot until I was finished reading it.

I did finish the book, but that experience, and the fear that it inspired in me in those lonely afternoons in a park in Tehran, will always stay in my mind to remind me of the utter importance of the separation of church and state, which ironically the current administration of my adopted country is determined to weaken.

Mehran Seyed
Reseda, Calif., Nov. 27, 2004

I have a suggestion for our President and our new Secretary of State:

Dear President Bush and Condi:

How about including a Referendum on the Iraqi ballot in January that would ask the people of Iraq if they still want our troops there? If a majority of the people vote, “yes”, we, of course, would stay, but if they vote “nay”, our troops could come home and our reputation would remain intact. The article below from Al Ahram Weekly in Egypt expresses how I believe many in Iraqi must feel. How about letting it be a true democracy?

Joan

From the Al Ahram Weekly - Egypt

Events in Iraq have violated all international norms. They undermine the credibility and universality of human values. International norms are not the exclusive preserve of the West. People are suffering and dying, their wealth squandered, their sovereignty trampled underfoot, all for the benefit of the US and its allies.

UN participation in the formation of the transitional government in June is something worth repeating until Iraq is rid of occupation. Initiatives and conferences are not enough to end the tension in the region. The tragedy in Iraq will not be over until the occupation is over.

This is a chance for the UN to repair its damaged legitimacy and assume the rightful leadership of the international community. This is a chance for Europe, Japan and the US to reclaim their democratic values. This is a chance for countries such as China and Russia to help their past and future allies in the region. This is a chance for Iraq's neighbours to prove their goodwill regarding Iraq's security and stability. It is a chance for the Arab League and its members to stand up for Iraq's rights, alone or alongside the international community.

Will anyone take these chances, for they may well be the last? Events in Iraq have violated all international norms. They undermine the credibility and universality of human values. International norms are not the exclusive preserve of the West. People are suffering and dying, their wealth squandered, their sovereignty trampled underfoot, all for the benefit of the US and its allies.

UN participation in the formation of the transitional government in June is something worth repeating until Iraq is rid of occupation. Initiatives and conferences are not enough to end the tension in the region. The tragedy in Iraq will not be over until the occupation is over.

This is a chance for the UN to repair its damaged legitimacy and assume the rightful leadership of the international community. This is a chance for Europe, Japan and the US to reclaim their democratic values. This is a chance for countries such as China and Russia to help their past and future allies in the region. This is a chance for Iraq's neighbours to prove their goodwill regarding Iraq's security and stability. It is a chance for the Arab League and its members to stand up for Iraq's rights, alone or alongside the international community.

Will anyone take these chances, for they may well be the last? Events in Iraq have violated all international norms. They undermine the credibility and universality of human values. International norms are not the exclusive preserve of the West. People are suffering and dying, their wealth squandered, their sovereignty trampled underfoot, all for the benefit of the US and its allies.

UN participation in the formation of the transitional government in June is something worth repeating until Iraq is rid of occupation. Initiatives and conferences are not enough to end the tension in the region. The tragedy in Iraq will not be over until the occupation is over.

This is a chance for the UN to repair its damaged legitimacy and assume the rightful leadership of the international community. This is a chance for Europe, Japan and the US to reclaim their democratic values. This is a chance for countries such as China and Russia to help their past and future allies in the region. This is a chance for Iraq's neighbours to prove their goodwill regarding Iraq's security and stability. It is a chance for the Arab League and its members to stand up for Iraq's rights, alone or alongside the international community.

Will anyone take these chances, for they may well be the last?


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