Thursday, June 20, 2013
On Friday, June 14, Iranians went to the polls to choose the next president of Iran. It is an oxymoron to say that Iranians chose the candidate through a democratic process. In reality, the candidate has to be approved by the guardian council and must meet the standards of the Supreme leader. Therefore He is usually first hand-picked and approved by the Ayatollah.
Hassan Rouhani emerged as the clear winner garnishing over 50% of the vote and at the end of the day most Iranians were celebrating in the streets. Thankfully this time there was no blood and violence like there was four years ago in the last presidential election. Instead there was a renewed sense of hope among most Iranians.
Rouhani declared himself to be a "moderate" instead of a conservative hard-liner, willing to have more constructive dialogue with the West. The Iranian regime, realizing they could not afford another bloody confrontation like four years ago, used Rouhani's moderate claims to appeal to the masses and insure a more peaceful result.
Elections in Iran are vastly different compared to what goes on here in the United States. Ordinary Iranian citizens are coerced or forced to come to the polls on election days or else suffer the loss of important government benefits. At the polls a government representative stamps their identification cards, noting who voted and who didn't. If an Iranian stayed home and boycotted the election, his or her card will not have the stamp on it and they will be considered "anti-government."
I have a dear friend in Iran who has to remain "unnamed" for security reasons. She is a young Iranian girl that I met online through Facebook. She does not embrace the "Muslim Faith," as most her friends are required to do. Instead she tells me that she has a love for Jesus and not the traditional Imams or Mullahs (Islamic clerics).
My friend shared with me a very amusing and interesting story about election day. She said that a lot of her friends embraced Rouhani's message and voted for him. Unlike her other friends, she protested and said, "Mullahs don't change, all of the candidates are the same." She held out little hope than any of them would make any difference in their desperate situation with the economy and the ongoing abuses of human rights. I want to share with you what my friend did on election day. I will quote from her own words with a few minor corrections to her English:
" I didn't want to vote. I stayed home on election day until 10 pm when the election was almost over. Then some close friends of mine urged me to vote or risk losing my government benefits. I freaked out and rushed to the nearest voting station. It was against my will to vote but I went anyway. They took my ID and registered me into the computer. Then they handed me a voting card and asked me to write the name of the candidate that I was voting for.
Instead of writing the real name of a candidate, I instead wrote down the name of my favorite singer, Justin Bieber and voted for him because I didn't like any of the real candidates."
When my friend shared this with me
I burst into laughter. Justin Bieber for President of Iran! Out of the masses of people in Iran, Justin Biebers name appeared on the ballot for president! WOW!
My friend did this for a very important reason. In essence she was making a bold statement against the corrupt political system in Iran. She was tired of the coerced tactics of the Iranian regime and was declaring, "This is who I choose to vote for, not who the Supreme Leader decides I should vote for!"
She is very courageous and yet very desperate! My heart goes out to her. If she lived here in the United States she would not be coerced to vote but have the freedom to vote for the candidate of her choice without fear. I have said this many times before but it is worth repeating.."We take our freedoms for granted!" My friends story is a story of great courage in the face of fear and oppression. I pray that my friend will not suffer consequences for her brave act. I believe there are many more Iranians just like her but are too afraid to speak out.
"Justin Bieber for President of Iran..hmmmm...He is very talented..has a lot of great songs..brings lot of fun, joy and happiness to millions...young girls and women love him...hmmm. Come to think of it, He is just what Iran needs. I think he would make an outstanding president!