Communist Youth Organization

The Youth Branch of The Workers’ Communist Party of Iran

On Arab Spring

Interview with Hamid Taqvaee 

Maryam Namzie:
Hi! You’re watching TV International with Maryam Namazi. In this week’s program we’re going to be discussing the Arab spring. We’ve got the brilliant Hamid Taqvaee in the studio with us this week to discuss this issue. Wellcome Hamid Taqvaee. 

Hamid Taqvaee: Thank you. 

MN: Last week we talked about the 99 Percent in the protest world wide. Is the Arab Spring linked to what we’re seeing in Wall Street, in London, and across the world? 

HT: Of course it is linked! First of all because the root of both movements is the same, and that’s the whole economical situation in the world: the economical crisis. One of the main slogans of the revolution in Egypt was bread, was the question of unemployment, the question of poverty and you see that the same thing is happening in the West now. That’s one thing that connects those two, the other thing is that even the form and the method of protest is very similar. I mean the whole idea of occupying Wall Street comes from Al-Tahrir Square in Egypt. And it’s not only Egypt and New York, of course. Every other places in the world we had that idea of occupying streets and claiming that streets belongs to us, you know. With idea of occupying comes idea of controll. We have to take controll, we people, we 99%, we have to take everything in our own hands, you know. That idea is a new idea you can say, and it is the basic idea in the Arab Spring, in the Middle East revolutions and in protests in the West. In Spain we had the same thing three months ago, in Paris we had the same thing, in Sol Square, people of Spain said streets belongs to us. It’s not simply a demonstration, it’s not one day protest and go home. It’s going out, come to the street and remain there. Take controll of the whole situation. 

MN: It’s interesting when you talk about the similarities. There’s also been a lot of opposition to parliamentary democracy in protest that we see from Wall Street and across the world. Whereas the Arab Spring protesters often being portrayed in the media as pro-democracy movements and that’s often the lable that given to protesters... 

HT: Yes, I know... 

MN: Would you agree that the protesters are pro-democracy...?

HT: No, I don’t. I don’t think that you can call them pro-democracy as such. They are against dictatorship for sure, but it doesn’t mean necessarily that they are pro-democracy. They are pro-freedom. People want to be free but these days democracy identifies itself with parliament and elections. It’s not a very attractive idea overall, you know, because people in the Middle East think that: ok, say in Greece they had parliament, there was election, and you see the situation. Even in the West, in the US, in the Western Europe, parliaments are very busy with passing laws against people, you know, with the policy of cutting all the social services, and so on and so forth. So it’s not very attractive. Every Egyptian would think: parliament for what? Parliament to do what? Something like Greece? Spain? We want unemployment? We need austerity measures? Of course not. Fifty years ago we couldn't say that. In uprisings against dictators, like in the revolution that we had in Iran thirty something years ago, people wanted democracy as such. It made sense somehow. But these days nobody is for democracy. 

MN: It seems though if you are not for parliamentary democracy then you’re not for people’s participation in society. That’s the image that’s been given. What would be an alternative then? iIf people aren’t able to vote what else they could do? 

HT: The alternative is taking shape already. The alternative is people with their committees, with their counciles. People are gathering in these sort of organizations in their protests everywhere. As I said before, with the idea of occupaying streets comes the idea of controlling the society. People saying we can do this. It’s possible. Especially with the new technology, with the Internet, with the social media, and so on people think that it’s doable, it’s possible. We can do that. We can take the controll in our own hands. As one of those activists in Sol Square in Madrid said “Our dream doesn’t come out from the ballot box”. It means that people know that it is not just the question of free election. Its a question of beeing free in every days life to decide about everything and to take controll of everything. And people know that parliament is not going to do that for them. Parliament is busy with saving bankers and do something with the capitalist bancrupsy in everywhere. So that situation brings with itself the idea of taking controll, taking everything in our own hands... 

MN: But the right to vote is still important, doesn’t it? I mean people have died for the right to vote and even in the sense where they’re occupaying Wall Street, people are still voting .?.. 

HT: Yes, the right to vote. But look, there’s a difference between the direct democracy and parliamentary democracy. I mean you vote and you elect somebody to do something and you think you are in charge or having control. That’s the second part which is missing, you know. In every parliamentary democracy, you elect some people for four years and you have no control whatsoever. They gone; they do what ever they want for four years...

MN: They do exactly what they said that they’re not gonna do... 

HT: Yes, because they need your vote they say whatever you want and after election they do whatever they want! Election promises are equivalent with lies. They just lie or do whatever they need to do to just take your vote and then they go on with their own policies, the policies of those one percent. 99% elect some "one percent" parties or parliament members or whatever, and then they go on with their own policies and after four years people come out with that ok, it didn’t work, go for the other party which is the same almost with just new faces...

MN: Going back to this issue of people’s participation, revolution is one way in which people do participate. Some people though believe that its a failure. Revolutions are failure. They failed and they’re helping to actually bring Islamism to power, even in places where they didn’t have power in the Middle East and the Northern Africa. What would you say to that? 

HT: Actually I think those revolutions are against Islamism as well, because Islamists have no role in them. You know, Islamism is a very well known movement and everybody knows what it is about. After September 11, we had Islamism in one pole, in one camp, and we had Neo-Cans and the militarism on the other, and everybody knows what they stand for. Islamism is for going back to Sharia laws, anti-Western values, or in fact anti-civilization tendencies, going back to "our own" culture, Arab culture or Islamic culture, women with Hijab with no rights at all, anti-Semitism ... that sort of thing. That’s Islamism. Political Islam is based on those goals and those values. But in those revolutions in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Syria there is no trace of such goals and tendencies. In Syria for example you have an uprising totally against Islamism, because Beshar al-Asad is a leader and a symbole of political Islam in the region. In Syria Islamism is in power. In Egypt, in Tunisia, in everywhre, in Lybia even, we have revolutions that are not about those values. Those revolutions have already declared that they are for freedom, they are for bread, they are for human dignity. So they have nothing to do with Islamism. I know that some Islamic groups, like the Islamic Republic of Iran, they try to say these are an Islamic revolutions or revolutions in Islamic countries, revolution against the West, and that sort of thing. But people in the street don’t say that. We don’t see any slogan against the "Great Satan" for example... 

MN: But there’s a danger of Islamism taking power... 

HT: Yes, always there is a danger. As far as Islamism is there as a political power, of course they do whatever they can to take power in those new situation that is created by revolution. But they had nothing to do with the revolution. Do you know what I mean? Moslem Brotherhood which was a very strong party in Egypt, even they had members in parliament in Mobarak’s time, in that revolution they are nowhere. You don’t see them at all. Of course, sometimes they make some comments or something, but people are not for, say, Sharia law in Egypt. You don’t see that trend, you don’t see that movement. 

MN: Thank you very much. We will going to end here. If you have any comments on this, do contact us. I just want to end with something that a Tunisian was saying in a rally for secularism. They said we didn’t overthrow Bin-Ali who told us we couldn’t say a lot of things to have someone come on and tell us that the rule of God doesn’t allows to say other things, and that secularism is an important value that they fighting for, as Hamid Taqvaee says. Send us your comments. Hope to see you again next week. Until then have a good week. 
October 28, 2011

Brief Introductions:
Hamid Taqvaee is the leader of Worker-Communist Party of Iran who was elected by the party’s central committee in the 4th congress of the party in the autumn of 2003.
Maryam Namazie  has been a member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran since 1995 and a member of the Party’s Central Committee since 2000.

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