The People’s Movement

Rachel Zabarkes Friedman in The National Review:

Iran_1 Mehrangiz Kar is a renowned Iranian human-rights lawyer and writer. In the January 2003 issue of the Journal of Democracy, she laid out a concise and powerful case against Iran’s theocratic constitution, detailing the structural impediments that make reform within the current constitutional framework impossible. Iran’s repressive government is a sham democracy: Even those branches that are elected by popular vote are subordinate to the clerical Guardian Council, appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khameini. While some Iranians and outside observers maintain that reform-minded politicians such as current President Mohammad Khatami can liberalize the Islamic republic from within, Kar’s argument implies that only fundamental constitutional change can produce a truly representative government in Iran.

Kar has suffered severe consequences for expressing her views. Like countless other Iranians who have criticized their government (see these alerts from Reporters Without Borders for just a few recent examples), she was imprisoned in 2000 after participating in an international conference at which she discussed constitutional change. Her husband was later arrested as well. Yet despite Tehran’s persistent efforts to prevent the airing of calls for meaningful governmental reform, Kar’s views have gained prominence through a new movement advocating a nationwide vote, or referendum, on whether to keep Iran’s Islamic constitution.

More here.