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Nader Hashemi

- An ignorant ideologue posing as a scholar -

Dr. Nader Hashemi

Like many Iran scholars based in the United States, who have their own narrative to tell and agenda to push, Dr. Nader Hashemi of the University of Denver is anything but an objective analyst. A devout supporter of the now defunct Green movement[1], he is implacably opposed to the government of President Ahmadinejad and actively campaigns for the demise of the Islamic system in Iran and its replacement by a secular and firmly pro-western regime. However, he is conspicuously silent about the pro-democracy Occupy movement on his doorstep. He argues that Muslim countries must embrace liberalism, and completely separate mosque from state, whilst allowing for some religious politics [2]. Hashemi has a particularly odd habit of claiming that anyone who dares to disagree with him is either an apologist for tyranny or is living on another planet [3]. Apparently, no sane and rational person could possibly hold views different to his own! Despite this, he also has a tendency to challenge people to a debate only to renege when he realizes he would lose. A consummate deceiver, he was among a group of Iran experts who claimed that the result of the Iranian presidential election of 2009 had to have been fraudulent. The evidence he cited

was essentially the same as that provided by Dr. Karim Sajjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, another idiot with an inflated sense of self-importance. Both men, it seems, just refused to accept that so many Iranians could have supported Ahmadinejad, and that the result could have been declared in a matter of hours. Of course, any serious political scientist worth his salt would not have found either of these scenarios implausible. In a 2008 survey of Iranian public opinion, conducted by WPO-PIPA, 66% of Iranians expressed their strong backing for the president [4]. Another poll, conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow 3 weeks prior to the June vote, found that Ahmadinejad enjoyed a lead of 2:1, including in ethnic regions such as Azerbaijan [5]. This was followed by no less than 3 post-election scientific polls, performed by western organizations [6-7], that all but confirmed the official figures. Moreover, the assertion that the outcome of the election was announced too early than could have possibly been the case is spurious. Projecting the outcome after a relatively small percentage of the votes had been counted, 5m out of 40m in the case of the 2009 poll, is routinely done in U.S elections when the lead is strong enough. But facts, figures and basic logic dont matter to folks like Hashemi with their own political agenda and ideology. Nothing will count as evidence for someone who believes only what he wants to believe. Instead of trying to make sense of events in Iran, and provide an intellectual explanation for them, he avoids all analysis and discussion with his complete denial of reality. Despite repeatedly asserting that the majority of Iranians would boycott the 2012 parliamentary elections, he was frustrated by reports of foreign news correspondents based in Iran that the turnout was in fact high [8]. He rejected the vote counts for all of the districts [9] just as he had done for the tallies of the 46,000 ballot boxes used in the 2009 vote [10]. For a man who claims to support democracy, he shows an utter contempt for the will of the people. Hashemi also maintains a misinformed perspective, common outside of Iran, that all key decisions in the country revolve exclusively around the Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, whom he regards as an absolute dictator with unlimited power. The rest of the political establishment, including the Majlis and Administration, doesnt seem to matter. Within Iran, however, Khamenei is regarded exactly as he is by the Iranian constitution: i.e. an arbiter and supervisor of the system who provides general guidance but who does not make policy or engage in actual governance. Hashemi also completely ignores the complex centres of power within the Islamic

Republic, including the Supreme National Security Council, the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council - some of whose members are critics of the Leader. Notwithstanding this, he shows a marked ignorance of the Islamic principles by which power is exercised in Iran. Khamenei, and the system as a whole, rule by consensus (ijma) and consultation (shura). No major decision can be taken unless it respects the views of the Revolutionary Guard, the religious foundations (bonyad), prominent clerics, the bazaar, the bureaucracy and other elements of Iranian civil society. As such, Iranian leaders are directed by broader interests and are more figureheads than political masters in their own right.

But it is in the events of the Arab Spring that Hashemi offers his most deluded of accounts. Like several others, he commits himself to the narrative that the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East were inspired by the seditious Green movement, and that they were entirely secular in nature. Corruption, poverty, lack of democracy and accountability were what the people were demanding be tackled, and not the imposition of an Islamic regime. In this respect, Hashemi has argued that the uprisings have nothing in common with the Iranian revolution of 1979, but follow the example of Muslim moderates in Turkey [11]. Such an analysis is deeply flawed. Firstly, corruption, poverty, and the general need for social justice, were among the driving factors behind the Iranian revolution not just religion. Secondly, the Islamic nature of revolts in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, and also Syria, is now obvious. While commentators like Hashemi were hopeful that liberals would win free elections held in these countries, Islamic parties triumphed in the polls. Egyptian politicians have since acknowledged that the overthrow of Mubarak was inspired by the Iranian peoples toppling of the Shah [12]. Despite this, Hashemi draws on other comments that the Islamists would not seek to turn their respective countries into religious states, emulating the AKP party in Turkey. But, here, he has completely ignored reality again. Unlike in Turkey, whose military-run establishment has tried to completely separate religion from public life, and has twice outlawed the AKP, no such separation has been proposed in the Arab countries. The provisional constitutions of Egypt and Libya both clearly state that Islam is the official religion, and that the principles of Islamic jurisprudence and law are the basis of legislation [13-14]. That means that they are Islamic states, quite unlike that of Turkey. The Muslim

Brotherhood in Egypt will try to institutionalize Islamic tenets in the final version by setting up a religious council to supervise the implementation and adherence to Sharia law, as is practiced not only in Iran (with the Guardians council) but also in Pakistan [15], Iraq [16] and Afghanistan [17]: Sovereignty belongs to God, but politics is conducted through a democratic process. The only thing the Brotherhood may drop is their idea of including the post of a Supreme Guide, similar to that of the Vali-e-faqih in Iran (a principally Shia concept). Only in Tunisia, where Islamists have not won an absolute majority, is the Turkish model likely to be employed. However, the governing Ennahada party there has recently called for the judiciary to punish individuals for insulting Islam and to prevent this in the future [18]. Therefore, despite his claims that the Iranian Revolution was not an inspiration to Muslims in the Arab world, and that secular liberalism would flourish in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Hashemi has once again been exposed as an ignorant ideologue posing as a scholar.

[1] http://en.qantara.de/The-Green-Movement-and-the-Struggle-for-IransFuture/15969c16164i1p77/index.html [2]http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ReligionTheology/Islam/? view=usa&ci=9780195321241 [3] http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2011/02/a-challenge-to-nader-hashemi.html [4] http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/apr08/Iran_Apr08_quaire.pdf (Q40) [5]http://www.terrorfreetomorrow.org/upimagestft/TFT%20Iran%20Survey%20Report %200609.pdf [6] http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brmiddleeastnafricara/652.php [7] http://csis.org/publication/iran-public-opinion-foreign-nucler-and-domestic-issues [8] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5b4836be-6448-11e1-b50e-00144feabdc0.html [9] http://www.ilna.ir/newsText.aspx?ID=248281 [10] http://moi.ir/Portal/Home/ShowPage.aspx?Object=News&ID=3a120d23-ac85-4ce8-931274f62edc27e4&LayoutID=b05ef124-0db1-4d33-b0b6-90f50139044b&CategoryID=832a711b95fe-4505-8aa3-38f5e17309c9 [11]http://naderhashemi.com/publications/Nader%20Hashemi%20Insight%20Turkey%202011.pdf [12] http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/islamist-activist-egypt-uprising-inspired-iranianrevolution [13] http://www.cabinet.gov.eg/AboutEgypt/ConstitutionalDeclaration_e.pdf [14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libyan_interim_Constitutional_Declaration [15] http://www.mofa.gov.pk/Publications/constitution.pdf [16] http://www.uniraq.org/documents/iraqi_constitution.pdf [17]http://www.afghanembassy.com.pl/cms/uploads/images/Constitution/The%20Constitution.pdf [18] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501713_162-57410566/tunisia-chief-backs-conviction-forislam-insult/