Monday, March 29, 2010

Strategies for Green Outreach in Iran

by Julie Jigsawnovich

An Iranian friend asked me, "What do you think is the best method to get the Green Movement's aims across? The outreach is to get less well-off people in Iran to support the movement. If they do, we will succeed". I answered:

1. Give children's shoes to poor people. kafsh-e bachche be mardom faqir dahid.
2. Volunteer to teach people to read. mardom khaandan aamuzesh daad.
3. Volunteer in health clinics. dar darmangah ha nirooye davtalab begirid.
4. Volunteer in shelters for people at risk. dar panaahgah ha baraye mardom nirooye davtalab begirid.
Charity work matters a lot. Some mothers in Iran don't send their children to school because they don't have money to buy shoes for their children. And some mothers enroll their children in religious schools because they don't have enough money for other schools. Basij recruits are often from poor neighborhoods. There seems to be a lot of class snobbery in Iran. Maybe poor people are frustrated, and think the only way they can enjoy a reasonable standard of living is if they work for the security forces. Show them alternatives. Show how the Green Movement would improve their education, etc. for a better life--so they don't have to brutalize their fellow Iranians as their job. Another Iranian friend pointed out that, "Ahmadinejad gave poor people some foods and fruits before the election--then they submited their vote for him".

5. Show a plan for how the Green Movement would manage the resources and economy better. tarhi baraye inke chetor jonbeshe sabz betavanad eghtesad ra edare konad erae dahid.

6.Show people how they could make more money if trade sanctions were removed and normal trade relations established. be mardom neshan dahid ke agar tahrim ha bardashte shavad chegoone mitavanand poole bishtary be dast aavarand.

7. Show that Green Movement is against Israel building on East Jerusalem. That's a big selling point for the regime to attract the attention of Muslims. And they are correct on that point, anyway. It's not a radical position. Israel should not be building on Palestinian land. It's illegal and it must stop--even the chief of the United Nations said that.

8. Show Muslims and secular people working together and respecting each other. neshan dahid ke mardome secular va mardome mosalman mitavanand dar kenare ham zendegi konand va be yekdigar ehteram begzarand. Have secular Green Movement talk about the beauty of mosque architecture. Find Muslims living in secular countries who lead happy lives, do good works and practice their religion--and have them talk about what it is like for them living in a country with no Sharia laws.

9. Show people that the Green Movement is proud of Iranian history, and Eastern culture. be mardom neshan dahid ke jonbeshe sabz eftekhare tarikhe iranian va farhange shargh ast. And bring up the fact that the great Iranian leader Soroush (Cyrus) wrote the first human rights document, allowed people of different religions to practice their religions, and he freed slaves.

10. Show how laws must be reformed so that women's rights increase. neshan dahid ke chegoone ghavanin bayad dobare tadvin shavand agar hoghooghe zanaan bishtar shavad. Show which laws the Green Movement wants to reform so that women have more freedom not only in terms of what they choose to wear, but whether they want their children to live with them after a divorce, how much their testimony counts in court, whether they can be exonerated if they kill someone in self-defense, and whether they have access to abortion and to the morning after pill--at minimum in the case of rape. Address employment discrimination against women. There are more female college graduates than male, but fewer of them are hired. Plus, I've heard there are 100,000 prostitutes in Tehran, maybe more in Qom. Show them how the Green Movement could create opportunities for better jobs.

2nd UPDATE: I've received many responses to the ideas in this article, and will publish more of them soon in an upcoming article. Here's a lengthy response:

UPDATE: My friend Dalir said, "I'm all for the aforementioned ideas on how The Green Movement can reach Iranians. I would add: an overhaul of the judicial system, invest in education, technology (non-military), agriculture and medical related issues."

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