“The Road to Democracy in Iran”
I’ve met the author, Akbar Ganji, several times back home in Khordad newspaper, one of the dozens of reformist newspapers in the age of the Iranian former president. I’ve always been a fan of his brave investigations and an active reader of his many Persian books and articles since more than a decade ago. It was of course despite the fact that in the naturally conservative context of Iranian reformism, many of his close friends were blaming his radical approach, claiming that their own moderate solutions “to step back and pay less when fundamentals are coming forward” could be wiser. During these hard days the Iranian people are facing the results of such a wisdom, I think!
I just ordered this first English book by Ganji published by MIT Press and thus highly recommend it hereby:
Akbar Ganji, called by some “Iran’s most famous dissident,” was a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. But, troubled by the regime’s repressive nature, he became an investigative journalist in the 1990s, writing for Iran’s pro-democracy newspapers. Most notably, he traced the murders of dissident intellectuals to Iran’s secret service. In 2000 Ganji was arrested, sentenced to six years in prison, and banned from working as a journalist. His eighty-day hunger strike during his last year in prison mobilized the international human rights community.
The Road to Democracy in Iran, Ganji’s first book in English, demonstrates his lifelong commitment to human rights and democracy. A passionate call for universal human rights and the right to democracy from a Muslim perspective, it lays out the goals and means of Iran’s democracy movement, why women’s rights trump some interpretations of Islamic law, and how the West can help promote democracy in Iran (he strongly opposes U.S. intervention) and other Islamic countries.
Throughout the book Ganji argues consistently for universal rights based on our common humanity (and he believes the world’s religions support that idea). But his arguments never veer into abstraction; they are rooted deeply in the realities of life in Islamic countries, and offer a clear picture of the possibilities for and obstacles to improving human rights and promoting democracy in the Muslim world.