There has been a concerted effort by Tehran to conflate opposition to the Iranian regime, its human rights abuses, and its inherent and deeply ingrained misogyny, with beating the drums of war. Tehran has managed to take advantage of some anti-war groups to line up support for its murderous behavior. The aim is to insinuate the notion that "if you are against the Iranian regime, you are for war with Iran."
Those who now callously argue that any strong criticism of the Iranian regime amounts to a preparation for war only serve to provide the regime with the "moral" cover it needs to continue its human rights atrocities, the stoning of women, the torture and execution of political dissidents, and exporting of terrorism.
In fact, during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's five-year tenure as the regime's president, 1,860 people have been executed, among them 42 women, with 261 cases reportedly carried out in public. Additionally, seven have been stoned to death, among them women. Iran is also the only child executioner in the world, hanging 36 juveniles in the same period.
So, it is high time for the forceful rejection of the false notion that opposition to such crimes is tantamount to warmongering. The only benefactor of this notion is the Iranian regime. What has instead become clear time and again is that when the international community actually applies pressure on the Iranian regime when it comes to human rights abuses, the regime succumbs.
The most recent evidence of this is the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian mother of two who was sentenced to stoning on charges of adultery. After a high profile international campaign, which was initiated by Ashtiani's children, the stoning, which was due to take place in July, was postponed by the Iranian regime's officials. Although the death sentence against her still stands, it is in large part due to the pressure applied by the international community that Ms. Ashtiani has not become another statistic of the regime's victims.
The regime argues that reports of its atrocious human rights abuses are nothing more than fabricated "anti-Iranian" propaganda meant to incite Americans to wage war. This is precisely what Ahmadinejad said when asked about Ashtiani's case in an interview with ABC television over the weekend. He first claimed that Ashtiani was never sentenced to death by stoning (which clearly contradicts an Iranian Foreign Ministry official's acknowledgment that the stoning had been halted), and that the story was nothing but an invention of the American media and politicians (deliberately ignoring her children's efforts that initially publicized her case). Ahmadinejad then noted, "We are opposed to the way United States manages the world, manages Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere" -- as if this was somehow relevant to the question at hand.
The world has to realize, both for the sake of the Iranian people who have on numerous occasions risen up in their millions against that dictatorial regime, as well as for the sake of global peace and security, that the genocidal behavior of the Iranian regime is no accident. Rather, it is endemic to its very existence, and its way of governance.
The time for muting criticisms of the Iranian regime is over - the people of Iran want, and need, allies in the international community to put concrete demands on the regime. A large rally to be held by thousands of Iranian Americans across the United States on Thursday 23 September across from the United Nations headquarters is meant to show the world that Ahmadinejad and his misogynist regime do not represent the Iranian people.
To the contrary, the participants will endorse the 10-point plan of Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran coalition, with states, among other things, "We believe in complete gender equality in political and social rights. We are also committed to equal participation of women in political leadership. Any form of discrimination against women will be abolished. They will enjoy the right to freely choose their clothing."
Unlike the mullahs, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi is committed to the "abolition of the death penalty" and the establishment of a "pluralist system," which guarantees "freedom of parties and assembly, freedom of expression of opinion, speech and the media." And finally, she concludes, "We want the free Iran of tomorrow to be devoid of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction."
Supporting the Iranian people and holding the Iranian regime accountable for its crimes is far from embracing war. In fact, it is the surest way to avoid the two scariest alternatives: an Iranian bomb or bombing Iran.