Monday, January 15, 2007

Once Again, Shaban "The Brainless"

Following the coup of 1953, Shaban Jafari moved up the ranks and was promoted by the Shah to head the Federation of Traditional Sports. But, no matter what wise words he said, he was always called the brainless Shaban, "Shaban Bimokh".

It is the same story with General Zolghadr, who was promoted into his new position as the deputy Ministry of Interior because of his involvement in the election of Ahmadinejad last summer. Despite the fact that Mr. Samareh Hashemi, the senior advisor to president Ahmadinejad, is officially in charge of the election process, General Zolghadr appeared on television screens this week to present a report to the people – and remind them once again that the most recent elections [for city councils and the Assembly of Experts] were the fairest in all of Iran's history.

Despite the facts on the integrity of the elections, pay raises, the number of voters and overall participation rates, most of General Zolghadr's report had to do with the neatness and uniformity of ballot boxes. According to Zolghadr, none of the previous administrations had the ability to build such neat and uniform ballot boxes! Perhaps they were wasting their time doing useless things, such as making sure that the integrity of the electoral process was not compromised, or that ballot boxes would not go missing for even a moment – let alone days, which are things that took place in the most recent elections.

It seems as if, from the point of view of the deputy minister, issues such as breaking seals, missing reports, changing monitors, and not allowing candidates or reporters to visit tallying centers are completely worthless of any discussion. What matters is who won, and Mr. Zolghadr did talk about that.

If Mr. Zolghadr insists on arguing for the fairness of recent elections, he must be reminded that what took place was incompatible even with the Islamic Republic's own standards. One should not speak of standards though; the only question is whether it is wise to treat the public and its votes in such manner given Iran's present condition. Is this the way to treat all those hopeful ones who showed up to cast their votes despite all of the problems? Is it appropriate to hear a voice that questions the importance of the people's vote, even if he is indirect about it?

[Translator's note: Shaban "the brainless" Jafari is a well-known figure in Iran because of his involvement in the 1953 coup d'etat that eventually toppled the legitimate government of Prime Minister Mossadegh. Brainless led a group of thugs in Tehran who disrupted mass gatherings organized in opposition to the Shah.]