Members of the Iranian parliament dominated by hardliners pledge to remain steadfast. July 2020

Scholars Say Hardliners Prevent Debate And Change In Iran

Sunday, 03/12/2023

Former Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei says Iran's foreign policy cannot be changed without reforming its political system.

Although he did not elaborate on his argument that Iran’s foreign policy is an outcome of its internal politics, it was obvious that as a member of the former centrist government he was targeting hardliners, who have obstructed talks with the West.

Speaking at a conference on "the protests and media," which was sponsored by the Iranian Society of Cultural and Communication Studies this week, Rabiei reiterated the position of more moderate regime insiders, blaming diaspora Iranians for “misrepresenting” the message of protests in Iran while also attacking hardliners for refusing to pave the way for public discussion that can lead to a new form of policymaking in Iran.

"Physically, all movements might recede one day, but the people's mentality will not change,” Rabiei said.

Hadi Khaniki, the Society's chairman, said that "protesting is part of the nature of the Iranian society, but protests can have different forms. Institutions like ours should go to the lower depths of social issues and offer solutions when politicians seem to have deviated from the right course or have taken hasty measures. Critical views can get the Iranian society a step forward. "

Former top presidential aide Ali Rabiei. January 23, 2023

Khaniki said that everyone agrees the protest movement in Iran has been widespread and that no other issue in Iran has attracted so much attention. He added that the protest movement has further politicized the Iranian society and even those who were reluctant to get involved in political discussions have become politically active. The media cannot remain indifferent to such a change, he said.

Khaniki argued that because of the weakness of civil institutions, the Iranian society's behavior often remains unknown or unpredictable. An issue such as the gas attacks on girls' schools grabs people's attention and gives rise to many concerns. Everybody sympathizes with the students and their parents, but it is not clear where the media should stand in a such a situation.

In fact, some media have reacted responsibly to the issue. Centrist daily Ham Mihan wrote in a commentary March 7, that despite the widespread attacks, "No particular medical treatment has been given to affected schoolchildren other than administering tranquilizers. There has been no chemical research about the nature of the gas used to poison the students. And all of that are signs of a deep-rooted mismanagement."

Ham Mihan observed that the absence of the right methodology to detect the truth, is indicative of inefficiency, lack of people's trust in the government, and lack of independent media that would reflect the truth.

Meanwhile, sociologist Taghi Azad Armaki said at the conference: "The essential problems of the Iranian society is one of lifestyle. Iranians wish to remain Iranian while as Mr. Rabiei said, there is a group in Iran that does not want Iranians to remain Iranian."

He said Iranians simply want to live, but the government and its pressure groups will do everything to prevent that. While the people think in terms of a cultural understanding of Iran, the government only recognizes its own political understanding of life in this country.

He said: Iranians are a nation that is constantly changing, but this change is non-violent. In the same way, Iranians have even changed Islam thanks to their adaptability and innovation. We are a nation that attaches importance to culture. We are a nation that wishes to bring about reforms. But those who have the wrong understanding of culture do not allow us to live.

As an example, Armaki pointed out the Iranian government's enmity with the middle class. "What has the middle class done that the government treats it as an enemy? The problem is a war between two cultures: The culture of life and the culture of totalitarianism."

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