Asambleas Ciudadanos


the Citizens' Assembly in Asia



Another Iran beyond binary explanations?

Translations : français . Español . English

A new relationship with the ideologies - transcription of the video interview

In order to characterize, or rather find some general characteristics, within the situation of Iran, the ideological character of the regime could be pointed out, and when I mention this I also refer to the ideological character of everything that was related to the intelligentsia of my generation as opposed to what happens today with the youth in Iran, where there is an immense lack of trust in all kinds of ideologies. Within the peak of civil society’s initiatives, there is something de-ideologized and, therefore, the meaning of citizenship is taken into account. Because we need to know as well that, with respect to the nature of the regimes which refused to acknowledge the notions of nation and citizenship because it was “umma”, that is, because it belonged to religion, this mistrust in ideology produces in contrast a respect and desire to have a sense of belonging to a community a lot closer to the notion of citizenship as we understand it today than the traditional form. What today’s youth and the women’s movement are trying to privilege are actually alternative forms a lot more distant from traditional ideologies which existed, for example, in the sixties and seventies, and even in the time of the Sha, in which there is a desire to take part in citizenship life without referring to an ideology and, thus, this is a gap as well, an opposition with respect to the definition of regime which defines some form of belonging to the religion as the only belonging and adherence characteristic, of the Iranian society.

Another Iran beyond binary explanations ?

“Social void” is a very, very important notion. It is a form of social anarchy where the lack of feeling of belonging to a community is defined as social void. But I also mean this with respect to regime, which is a totalitarian regime which does not leave room for individuals’ – and therefore, the citizen’s – freedom and autonomy, and we should also know that TV programs, for instance, begin with some recipes from the Koran and that, when made or passed on, should be given with the reference to the Koran or to something religious. This becomes quite bothersome and “serious”, which explains the dichotomy and the great opposition between life inside and outside of the Iranian society. That is, where the people find more freedom within than outside, and, in compensation, there is even an exaggeration of the freedom of speech in the inside. However, at the same time, when I say that at present not everything is black or white, we should also know that the younger generations who are between twenty and thirty years of age and grew up in this regime, run away from this ideologization of the political discourse, as is the case of women. Among these young generations, there are many highly-educated women so the regime has come to a point in which a system has been implemented to prevent these young women from having access to university studies. And this formidable growth –like I said – of the civil society, is what – in my opinion – makes it possible to talk about another Iran which exists, which unfortunately is not included frequently enough in the Western media, i.e. they only mention the regime or, for instance, the nuclear crisis issues. Talking about the nuclear crisis has been used, for some time, to the detriment of what is happening with the civil society in Iran.

The formidable growth of the civil society

This growth is also defined by the birth of a formidable movement of what have been named NGOs. It should be pointed out that, due to the lack of union activities, of political parties and other forms of association, the birth of the NGOs was an alternative as well as a response on the part of civil society to create forms of citizens’ activities. It is true that the women and environmentalist movements were the first ones. Moreover, there are many women who are active in a truly inter-generational way, for example, young, adolescents. I have found, for instance, initiatives in a little town where people go to the park every Friday to encourage people to pick up trashcans. Those very same young people have made contact with local businessmen and said “we’ll give a refrigerator or a radio to whoever collects the most trashcans.” These kinds of initiatives do exist. There are also initiatives to clean the mountains, and there are many movements around these environmental – ecology – challenges because they are not a political expressions. It is a sort of activity that replaces or responds to this existing social myth and which the regime might have more difficulty to condemn than free expression or a political activity. Other forms of movements are women movements. The best-known is the “Million signatures campaign”, which began about 5 years ago. A group of women decided to go door to door with a petition against misogynist laws in the constitution of the Islamic Republic. Evidently, this translated into many arrests and persecutions of the women belonging to this movement, but this started to grow and is now developing further. Recently, about a month or two ago, I believe last February, this movement was internationally acknowledged and granted a collective award, the Simone de Beauvoir award, in France.







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