[Marxism] Islamist, Socialist revolutions do not mix

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 3 11:06:25 MDT 2007


POLITICS-IRAN:  Islamist, Socialist Revolutions Don't Mix
By Kimia Sanati

TEHRAN, Oct 3 (IPS) - An attempt to rope in the son and daughter of the 
Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara to forge a parallel between 
Iran's Islamist revolution and the socialist revolution in Latin America 
through a four-day conference has ended in fiasco.

After Aleida Guevara protested from the podium against perceived 
distortions of her father's ideology by the first Iranian speaker, Haj 
Saeed Ghasemi, the four-day 'Che Like Chamran' conference, that started 
Sep. 25, was aborted and the Latin American guests whisked away.

'Che Like Chamran', the title of the conference, was chosen for the 
alliteration in the names of the two revolutionaries and because both 
Che and the Iranian, Mostafa Chamran, fought alongside revolutionaries 
in other countries. But the similarities end there, no matter what the 
organisers intended to promote.

Chamran, a United States-educated engineer and Islamist, helped Mousa 
Sadr found the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon and fought alongside 
Amal guerrillas in the late 1970s. Appointed the young Islamic 
Republic's defence minister by Ayatollah Khomeini, Chamran organised and 
led paramilitary forces during the early phase of the Iran-Iraq war 
(1980-1988) and was killed in battle in the Khuzistan province in 1981.

"We feel responsible towards all of humanity...unity is of especial 
importance to us. The reason for the relations established between our 
student group and the children of Che Guevara and the Latin American 
countries is what we have in common," Morteza Firoozabadi, secretary of 
the Pro-Justice Student Movement (PJSM), explained to the Islamic 
Students News Agency (ISNA).

"We are never afraid of death and that is what Americans are most scared 
of. They cannot accuse us simply by citing things like terrorism, 
seeking war or breaching human rights. We only aim to free the oppressed 
and to restore the rights of all the people of the world so we do not 
recognise borders and do not care what names Americans use for this," 
Firoozabadi was reported by ISNA as saying.

Organised by the student militia of Tehran University, the conference 
was attended mostly by counterparts from various other universities as 
well as members of hardline student groups such as the PJSM that 
strongly support President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies. These groups 
regularly organise demonstrations and protest rallies against the US and 
other western countries.

But Ghasemi, who is associated with Iran's Esteshhadiyoun (volunteers of 
suicide operations) must take credit for scuttling the conference. 
Referring to a translated version of a Che Guevara book that he held in 
his hand, he said Che Guevara was religious and believed in God. "The 
people of Cuba, Fidel (Casro) and Che Guevara were never socialists or 
communists. Fidel has several times admitted that he and Che and the 
people of Cuba hated the Soviets for all they had done.''

''Today communism has been thrown into the trash bin of history as it 
was predicted by Ayatollah Khomeini," Ghasemi told the conference and 
added that the only way to save the world was through the ''the 
religious, pro-justice movement''.

An indignant Aleida, however, started her own address "in the name of 
the people of Cuba". "We are a socialist nation," she asserted. She also 
said the people of Cuba were grateful to the Soviet Union and there had 
never been any discord between the two nations, as mentioned by Ghasemi. 
She advised him to "always refer to original sources instead of 
translations to find out about Che Guevara's beliefs".

"My father never talked about God. He never met God. My father knew 
there was no absolute truth,'' Aleida said, responding to Ghasemi's 
speech. The coverage of her address by state-sponsored news agencies 
like ISNA was brief and excluded most of her contradictory remarks.

At a meeting later with students of Amir Kabir University of Technology, 
where the leftist groups are particularly strong, Camilo Guevara told 
students he approved of all that his sister had said at the conference, 
ISNA reported.

The other main speaker, Mehdi Chamran, brother of Mostafa Chamran, 
avoided mention of Che Guevara or his ideology in his address. Chamran, 
who is chairman of the Tehran City Council is a loyal supporter of 

''President Ahmadinejad's promotion of closer ties with certain Latin 
American countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia called for some 
kind of identification of his brand of Islamist militant ideas with 
those of the leftists in Latin American countries,'' a leftist student 
activist from Amir Kabir University told IPS on the condition of anonymity.

"Ahmadinejad has visited several Latin American countries over the past 
two years. He has brought (Hugo) Chavez and (Daniel) Ortega here. Belief 
in socialism is considered a crime in the Islamic state, punishable by 
death. Ahmadinejad's slogans against the West and the U.S., his 
pro-justice rap, and his promises of economic assistance bring them here 
-- much to our disappointment," she said. "Daniel Ortega and other 
leftist leaders too must clarify their position about their relations 
with Iran. We feel greatly betrayed when for their countries' economic 
benefit they choose to support extreme rightists, fascists like 
Ahmadinejad," she added.

Following Aleida's outspoken address to the conference, the organisers 
took flak from their own comrades. "It is appreciable to commemorate Che 
Guevara as a revolutionary figure. Otherwise, our former perspectives on 
his ideas, methods and attitude are still the same. We are Muslims and 
he is non-Muslim. The difference will always remain," Mohammad Sedaghat, 
the leader of Student Militia of Shahed University was quoted by ISNA as 

"Chamran was a revolutionary Shiite Muslim whereas Che Guevara was 
totally atheistic. The only thing they had in common was their spirit of 
fighting injustice. For choosing friends we must meet other criteria, 
such as being God-loving -- besides being anti-American," Sedaghat was 
reported as saying.

Mohammad Jaffar Irani, a reformist student activist, was quoted by ISNA 
as pointing out that the same group that organised the conference had 
always considered Che Guevara an atheist. "If anyone other than the 
(hardline) group that organised this event had done so they would have 
gotten into a great deal of trouble,'' he was quoted saying.

"The organisers of the event were hardline supporters of Ahmadinejad who 
have nothing in common with leftists, even the Islamic leftists of the 
early days of the (Iranian) revolution. President Ahmadinejad has in 
fact much in common with President Bush, although he may sound very 
'leftist'," an observer in Tehran told IPS on condition of anonymity.

"Leftist countries must realise that if the issues that make the Iranian 
hardliners confront the West such as its demand to be accepted to the 
nuclear club are resolved, today's leftist allies may instantly turn 
into their common enemies," he said.

"Unfortunately some wrong approaches (remarks) diverted the course of 
the conference from (discussing) commonalities to the differences 
(between the two revolutionaries). This caused the conference to be 
deviated from its main course,'' Sajjdad Saffar Harandi, leader of the 
Student Militia (Basij) in Tehran University, told the pro-Ahmadinjead 
website Raja News, explaining the fiasco.

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