Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Thomas Friedman points out that what is going on in Iran today "is a combination of Martin Luther and Tiananmen Square"
To put it another way, what's going on in Iran today is precisely the war of ideas within Islam that is the most important war of all. We can kill Osama bin Laden and all his acolytes, but others will spring up in their place. The only ones who can delegitimize and root out these forces in any sustained way are Muslim societies themselves. And that will happen only when more Muslim societies undergo, from within, their own struggle for democracy and religious reform. Only the disenchanted citizens of the Soviet bloc could kill Marx; only Muslims fed up that their faith is being dominated by anti-modernists can kill bin Ladenism and its offshoots.
He then goes on to talk about the main symbol of this movement, Hashem Aghajari, who was sentenced to death for questioning the supremacy of the clerics.
"Just as people at the dawn of Islam conversed with the Prophet, we have the right to do this today," he said. "Just as they interpreted what was conveyed [to them] at historical junctures, we must do the same. We cannot say: `Because this is the past we must accept it without question.' . . . This is not logical. For years, young people were afraid to open a Koran. They said, `We must go ask the mullahs what the Koran says.' Then came Shariati, and he told the young people that those ideas were bankrupt. [He said] you could understand the Koran using your own methods. . . . The religious leaders taught that if you understand the Koran on your own, you have committed a crime. They feared that their racket would cease to exist if young people learned [the Koran] on their own."
Could Aghajari be the next Martin Luther?