The U.S. Must Not Ignore Iranians’ Human Rights in Pursuit of a Nuclear Deal

March 11 2021

During the Obama administration, Washington often avoided pressing the Islamic Republic over its brutal treatment of its own citizens, out of fear that doing so would lessen its chances of achieving a historic agreement in which the ayatollahs agreed to restrict their nuclear program. Now that the Biden administration is considering a resurrection of the deal, Xiyue Wang—an American historian of Iran who was held hostage there—urges the White House not to make the mistake of relegating human rights to the back burner:

As seen . . . following the conclusion of the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran’s human-rights condition is unlikely to improve through Obama-style engagement. On the contrary, such engagement tends to backfire and intensify the regime’s malign behavior. Therefore, the United States should instead maintain moral solidarity with freedom-seeking Iranians and implement measures against the regime for its human-rights abuses.

A good start would be to establish a congressional commission to monitor human-rights violations in Iran and to provide material and moral support to Iran’s civil and political activists. Moreover, the United States should impose targeted sanctions, through the Magnitsky Act, on Iranian entities and individuals involved in such abuses.

This work cannot be done overnight. It requires an enduring political commitment to create and implement an effective strategy. Regardless of the challenges, American leaders should not hesitate to undertake such a task. They need only be reminded of Pope John Paul II’s message in 1978 to the oppressed people behind the Iron Curtain: “Be not afraid!” This simple message inspired and galvanized millions in the pope’s native Poland to defy the Communist dictatorship by demanding civil and political rights. It eventually helped to bring about not only the end of Communist rule in Poland, but also the total collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Appeasing the regime by giving in to its extortion, nuclear or otherwise, is a road to failure.

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Read more at Caravan

More about: Barack Obama, Human Rights, Iran, John Paul II, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter