By Behrooz Behbudi, Special for USDR
Thousands of jubilant dancing and singing Iranians took to the streets last week to celebrate news of an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The nation’s reaction to the deal was summarized in one young Iranian girl’s emotion when she told a foreign reporter: “Now we will be able to live normally like the rest of the world.”
Obsessed with a largely secret nuclear program that has cost the Iranians hundreds of billions of dollars, bankrupted the country’s economy and kept Iran isolated from the rest of the world, the Islamic republic regime has indeed denied a nation “to live normally like the rest of the world,” not just for its nuclear ambitions, but more for its medieval look at the notion of human life itself.
People in the West may tend to have a narrow view of Iran, given the many depressing news that emanates from the country for its archaic political system. But the Iranian people’s national pride and love of freedom and peaceful coexistence with the world have not withered under the theocratic rule of the mullahs.
However, denying the Iranian people the right to happiness and banning them from many basic civil and human rights that are taken for granted in the West is an inseparable nature of the Islamic republic regime.
Its founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, had clearly once said “the Islamic republic’s legitimacy and continuation is secured by instigating grief and crying of people.”
While the regime’s repressive policies do not distinguish between Iranians of different historic religious and ethnic background, the country’s heroic women and artists have borne the brunt of them.
The regime’s blind hatred of Western cultural values and individual liberties interpret any association of men and women in public as displaying “corruption and promiscuity.”
The world’s public was shocked to learn how in last November British-Iranian woman Ghoncheh Ghavami was sentenced to one year in jail after she and others demanded that women be allowed in to watch a volleyball match between Iran and Italy at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. She was pardoned last week, after almost a year in custody under inhumane conditions, but cannot leave Iran until 2017.
Earlier the regime’s disdain for happiness under the guise of “protecting religious values” had already been condemned across the globe when six young Iranian men and women who had videotaped their dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” song were rounded up by Revolutionary Guard agents and sentenced to suspended jail terms and lashes for sharing their own happiness with the rest of the world through the social media.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian women have been banned from singing. The restrictions first prohibited all singing but faced with the growth of underground bands and public demands, it has now changed into a ban on women singing solo in front of men who are unrelated to them. Conservative clerics say women’s voices can trigger immoral sensual ideas in men.
Club wielding vigilantees and thugs organised by religious groups continue to attack music concerts and festivals deemed as “un-Islamic” to them.
Iranians are astonished when they hear that films made by banned directors at home receive admiration and prestigious awards in international festivals, as the regime attempts to stifle artistic freedoms that run contrary to its ideological dogmas.
By banning happiness and optimism among the Iranian people, the Islamic republic regime intends to stop them from coming together for common purposes and shared hopes, powerful social elements that can easily be used to organise a united opposition to its rule.
The Iranian regime may have inadvertently allowed the Iranians to dance and sing on the streets now to portray their gesture as support for its policies. However, only once all the dust settles over the devastating issue of its nuclear program, can one say for sure if the regime ever believes in respecting the rights of the Iranians to be able “to live normally like the rest of the world.”