Iran and I

By Dimitri Prieto

 Iranians went to the polls recently to elect their president. Photo:bbcworldservice
Iranians went to the polls recently to elect their president. Photo:bbcworldservice

A few years ago I had the opportunity to get to know several Iranians who were receiving training at my same research center. I was impressed by the fresh vision of the world that many of them had – so contrary to how we imagined the views of Muslims.

I saw pictures of Ayatollahs in their meeting rooms and learned how to appreciate the wisdom of this militant religion, as well as the rebelliousness of those who fight against oppression based on an institutionalized religion. I identified with their problems.

I also learned a few Persian words and saw some beautiful films (later I saw more; alternative Iranian cinema is increasingly popular in Cuba). I found out that the hijab (veil) is used only to go out into the street, and that many Persian women are opposed to having to wear that garment. Much later, I had the opportunity to read Persepolis, the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, which I liked a lot.

The recent elections in Iran and what occurred in their wake touches the vital chords of any person who possesses even the most basic information about that Persian country.

On the one hand, no one likes powerful foreigners involving themselves in the internal affairs of their country. For that reason, you can understand the reaction of some Iranians against the foreign press.

Yet, on the other hand, from what we in countries with radical revolutionary histories have experienced (even when a religious component was absent), we know that a revolution always polarizes the opinions of people; this, in essence, has nothing to do with the “impartiality of opinion.”

Moreover, to make a revolution within a revolution is one of the most difficult tasks of revolutionary politics — so difficult that practically no effort in the 20th century was able to attempt this without perishing in the process.

Opposition supporters say the election results were fraudulent. Photo: bbcworldservice
Opposition supporters say the election results were fraudulent. Photo: bbcworldservice

From this we can perfectly understand the apocalyptic feelings of the demonstrators in various Iranian cities, and we have the right to doubt that so many people were provoked only by imperial propaganda.

The people of Iran, according to the constitution of that country, are entitled to choose their president from among several candidates representing distinct political tendencies (there are no organized parties), and they do this through the secret and direct vote.

The Islamic leadership controls the process and has the last word on the results in the event of discrepancies. It is not my aim here to analyze the complex Persian political system, I only want to emphasize that there is pluralism within the Islamic revolution in power; there exists a legitimate opposition leadership and there is people’s participation in the electoral system for deciding their president.

It’s a shame that — except for the aforementioned movies — Cubans don’t have access to audiovisual and media materials about the situation in Iran viewed from diverse angles from within Iranian society itself.

It seems that with regard to certain international issues, the habit persists, inherited from Cold War times, of looking at only one side of the coin.

Nevertheless, I’m sure that in the most mysterious ways the fabric of history is spun and woven by common people, and that they are the ones who always have the last word. Their voices will be heard; their words will be transmitted and guarded close to the heart, because true revolutionary solidarity is always the questioner of any establishment.

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

One thought on “Iran and I

  • July 13, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov,

    I enjoyed your article very much. Because I am interested in Russia, so I am reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” little by slowly. I have meet some Iranians. They are very talented and nice people.

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