Your e-mails: The situation in Iran
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(CNN) -- Even amid the Iraq war and the London bombings, Iran has garnered its fair share of headlines lately. Many of them center on conservative Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rise to president and Iran's budding nuclear program.
CNN.com readers from around the world have weighed in on the situation in Iran, voicing their opinions on the country's past, present and future, as well as the role of the U.S. government and others worldwide.
The e-mails below represent a sampling of this feedback on Iran.
I didn't vote for the president elect, as I was afraid of consequences of a hard-line government without any moderate member. However, now I think we have to face the reality. One way or the other, we will get out of this twilight. If they manage to improve country conditions, fine; otherwise, they [will] not have any more excuses [and] we will be getting closer to a total change of system.
For the young in Iran and elsewhere, the old ways simply are not working. Pious platitudes, bromides and promises are not feeding, clothing, sheltering, employing and protecting people. I think young people, particularly, want something better for themselves and for others in their world: peace and stability. I believe the young represent a powerful force that will have to be reckoned with by the governmental powers of today -- powers that live in their ivory towers, cut off from the realities of living experienced by most of the people of the world. I see hope, but we should not look to [U.S.] leaders exclusively. They have demonstrated their narrow vision and blind self-interest. A new paradigm of ethics, integrity, responsibility and brotherhood will have to emerge, or we will all face horrific global catastrophe and conflict as desperate people use desperate measures to meet their own desperate needs.
The Islamic revolution has not yet run its full course in Iran. The groups clamoring for change, moderation and expanded liberties will not just go away, even in the face of repressive tactics by the government. The people of Iran are, in reality, only trying to live up to the ideals and principles of Islam. A repressive government is not truly an Islamic government, at least as I read and understand the Quran.
Our only chance to continue to make change in any of the Muslim countries is to push the technology of communication, to help ensure a somewhat balanced level of world events and views reach some of the young. Flood their black markets with [satellite television] dish systems, computers and printed materials.
I'm tired of the West trying to force their ideals and morals on the rest of the world. I may not agree with Iran's policies and procedures, but what right do we have to play the world's policeman/dictator? For if we force them to become more like us, isn't that what dictators do to their people and their neighbors?
The population of Iran must act, if need be through another revolution, to right the wrongs of the hard-liners. If anyone thinks the hard-liners will leave voluntarily, they are mistaken ... The people of Iran must hold their so-called elected officials accountable. And until they do, [the United States] and the rest of the world should treat them like the terrorists they are. This means taking whatever actions we as a free society deem necessary to protect our citizens and our way of life. If it takes total annihilation, then so be it. Do unto others, before they do unto you.
The United States shouldn't attack Iran, but [should] defend forces who defend human and democratic rights. These groups are not, and never have been, monarchists like Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, but forces acting inside Iran, criticizing the absurd situation. Monarchists have never, during the whole Iranian history, defended democracy in Iran.
The best course of action for the United States now is patience. Permit the younger generation to absorb the lifestyle of the West and the hard-line clerics will disappear. Their religion has been left in the Dark Ages and has to be elevated to current trends. Poverty and ignorance of the masses were the hallmarks of Christianity's stronghold in the Dark Ages, but after the 14th century they changed -- as must Islam. As far as nuclear weapons, India, Pakistan, Israel, China all have these, why not [Iran]?
Opening doors to the massive number of young people in Iran is not going to come without a price to the hardliners.
-- Bill Ricardi from California
I think that the Iranian government should crack down, for example, on liquor and drugs. But I also think that it should reform its industry and military. Iran is a strong country, and its people are resilient; if things are not going well, the people will be able to change it.
The conservatives in Iran are trying to secure their control, yet know that if they push too much it will all fall apart. They chose historic and popular figures to bolster their image as "Revolutionary Council" members in the recent elections ... With the "Information Age," the populace in Iran wants to join the world community. The hard-liners are between a rock and a hard [place]. Eventually, I think they will have to modify their stance or suffer from a popular revolution of some sort themselves.
It does not surprise me that a staunch conservative was elected, given the popular disappointment with the useless Khatami's presidency. What surprised me was the post-election shock in Iran's upper class and its expatriate community. There was always a huge disconnect between the small minority of rich people who could afford to leave Iran or, alternatively, to live quite extravagant lifestyles, and the overwhelming majority of poor, uneducated, unemployed Iranians. This disconnect led to the Iranian Revolution in the first place. My advice to the reformists and expatriates: Stop bickering, stop philosophizing about the "decline of Iran" in your million-dollar houses, and, instead of showing off your new BMWs to each other, why don't you try and reach out to the poor majority of Iran? This will [do] much more than the confused effort to "free" Iran ... that is currently going on.
It is hard for us as a country to oppose countries run by hard-line conservative groups whose beliefs are tied to their religion. [The United States does] not seem to be practicing separation of church and state ourselves these days, so who are we to judge? Of course the inequality of women under any government is deplorable. But it is imperative if we as a country are going to stick our noses in other people's business, that we practice what we preach.
The situation in Iran is horrible. Iranian people are being kept under the demonic control of freaky mullahs and their Islamic laws ... However, after the unjust and unnecessary invasion of Iraq by U.S.[-led] forces, the democrats in Iran and everywhere else have no room for voicing reasonable arguments. That's because their repressive governments will point to murderous actions [of coalition forces] in Iraq as the reason to suppress any voices speaking for freedom under the guise that they are under mortal threat by murderous [Western] governments ... So the world is a much worse and dangerous place.
All this spin about how the youth in Iran hate the mullahs and love the United States will vanish once we or Israel bomb their nuclear sites. The good news is that dropping bombs is something our military does reasonably well. The bad news is that our government is as good at nation-building as it is at delivering the mail and running railroads.
Iran's political system includes voting and campaigning, as seen in these signs touting conservatives.
Opening doors to the massive number of young people in Iran is not going to come without a price to the hard-liners. There is simply no way to shelter their youth from global ideas and a global sense of capitalism if they want to avoid economic stagnation. With the exchange of money will come the exchange of ideas. And that's how human rights are born. It starts with a little freedom. It blossoms with the free exchange of ideas and points of view. And it thrives via social revolution.
Iran is in economic disarray. Unemployment and other diurnal issues are connected to 80 percent of the population. Iran is liberal in terms of human rights, women's rights (women are allowed to work, drive, vote, have posts as high as vice president), minority rights (full rights to practice their religion, voting rights, representation in lawmaking bodies, no persecution). But the Western world quietly ignores all this and [irrationally] guns for regime [change].
I grew up in Iran, and I've seen how this government, since the beginning, tries to change everything in life and label it with Islam ... [Iran has] one person rule everything with his words being equal or above the word of God. How do you expect people to live in the 21st century with that type of ideology? A ruler like this will keep the people hungry and uneducated/illiterate and completely disconnected with the rest of the world. Eventually, this will change. We all know that history will repeat itself, you just have to give it time.
Iran is becoming a premiere power in the Middle East. It can either help or hinder our current endeavors. Fist shaking and threats of sanctions will only continue to solidify an already hardening sentiment towards the West. A meaningful dialogue would eventually benefit and possibly help to stabilize this troubled region.
Iran is the best country, better than the United States. Women have enough freedom and men, too. Some things that some countries are saying about Iran are wrong. In Iran, especially, boys and girls have a lot of freedom and they do what they like.
[The United States] should have been much more concerned with Iran than Iraq. Iraq, for the most part, was a fairly secular society run by a dictator. Iran is a country that has long supported religious fanatics. This country may experience change, but instead [of] change for the better, I fear that the hard-line conservatives will only use these problems to stir up fanatics against Western interests.
If [the new conservative leaders] manage to improve country conditions, fine; otherwise, they [will] not have any more excuses.
-- Bijan from Tehran, Iran
Iran should be Iran's business. [The United States has] meddled in foreign affairs for too long. [U.S.] history of nation building is wrought with well-documented failures. And the Islamic propensity towards violence should be a lesson to us all ... Let's stay out of other's affairs. After the violence seen in the United States and [England], we should pull our hands away from the hornet's nest. If the people of Iran are unhappy, they can rise up and unseat their own government. If we go in and do this for them, then we make ourselves the enemy and play further into the hands of the terrorists.
I think the majority of [Iranian] people actually spoke in this election. By not electing Rafsanjani, they sent a message that they are tired of all the empty promises given by those in power. The people of Iran are suffering, and they are searching for a more real way out of the hardships they are going through every day.
The election further clarified where power resides in Iran. The current government has no interest in women's rights and no meaningful policy of social reform. The Iran government's empty promises resonate with destitute and religiously zealous people who are pliers of power for the government. There will be very little ... political and social reforms in Iran. When there is change, it will only serve to financially benefit a few highly connected individuals. Iran will continue to suffer from talent drain, and it will continue to build military machines to feed government officials' paranoia.
Imagine if you were the president of Iran. Wouldn't you want nuclear weapons at your disposal to keep the United States at bay? The United States has more nuclear weapons than any other country in the world, so who are we to tell other countries not to have them? [The U.S.] government has the audacity and ethnocentric attitude to question the development of weapons in other countries during a year in which the combined military budgets of every other country in the world were still less that what the United States spent on defense.
Extremism on either end of the spectrum -- whether it is conservative or liberal -- tends to stifle reform. Those who follow Ayatollah Ali Khameinei will most likely continue to disregard the rights of women and children as they traditionally have, and thumb their nose at the non-Arab, non-Muslim countries who would comment on the oppression of their society as they hide behind the guise of Islam. Historically hard-line conservatives have committed some of the worst atrocities that the world has ever witnessed. Let's hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Iran's policies will most likely escalate tension between non-Muslim and Muslim countries and non-Arab and Arab countries, creating suspicion among all sides involved. Hatred is a powerful and terrible emotion.
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