The two opposition candidates of Iran’s rigged elections last year, Mr, Mousavi and Karroubi have repeatedly spoken of the plurality of the Green movement since its inception. They have both also reiterated that those who appose the Green movement has an opportunity to be present and participate in the movement. Nevertheless, a number of political figures and groups abroad have made very controversial comments about the Green movement and its followers. In an interview with Roozonline, while reiterating the plurality of voices and viewpoints as one of the main characteristics of the Green movement, Rahnavard said: “All those who believe in change towards freedom, democracy, free elections and non interference by the government in people’s personal lives are Green.”
The complete content of Roozonline’s interview with Dr. Rahnavard, university professor and artist is as follows:
In an interview with the Kaleme website, Mr Mousavi had stated previously that he does not have a representative outside of Iran. It has been a while since he gave that interview. This time we would like to ask you, does Mr. Mousavi have a representative or spokes person outside of Iran?
Mousavi has repeatedly said that he has no representative or spokes person outside of Iran.
Lately some political figures and websites have begun to draw a line in the sand between the various elements of the Green movement. This has led to much criticism. Is this done on behalf of the Green movement and in Mr. Mousavi’s name? What does Mr. Mousavi think of this type delineation?
According to Mr. Mousavi’s various statements, every individual in the Green movement is a messenger. However, this does not mean that they represent Mr. Mousavi or the movement. Mr. Mousavi’s opinions have clearly been expressed in his own statements.
Allow me to be more specific. Mr. Mohajerani, for example, has made comments that referred to such delineations that were met with much criticism. The Jaras website published an article that narrowed the breadth of the Green movement to a point that it claimed “Anyone that opposes the Green movement does not necessarily fit within the movement and anyone expressing their own opinions and chanting at any cost in the streets is not a member of the Green movement.” What is you opinion regarding this matter? Are you in agreement with these types of delineations?
We have our own interpretations and they express their own opinions. The ability to express a variety of viewpoints creates constructive and useful dialogue. In other words, there is nothing wrong with everyone expressing their own opinion. We have become too accustomed to society in which there is only one voice. However, we must realize that everyone should have the right to express themselves. It is this plurality and existence of various voices that is one of the main characteristics of the Green movement. We do not however, necessarily agree with all the viewpoints within the movement.
Ms. Rahnavard, from your point of view, who are the individuals who make up the Green movement and what spectrum of society does it include?
The Green movement is pluralistic and anyone who believes in change towards freedom, democracy, free elections, and the lack of interference by the government in people’s personal lives is Green. This does not mean that all Greens follow the same ideology, or that we all have the same viewpoints. I believe that the Green movement is about what unites us. Even though our differences exist, they provide an opportunity for all of us to come together regardless of our varying viewpoints. For example, within our movement, one person may be very religious and another not, while others fall somewhere in between this spectrum of religious beliefs. Even though our differences remain, we have come together based on our common beliefs and those things that unite us. In other words, regardless of our differences the Green movement has united us based on our common goals and agreements.
Can you please elaborate on what you mean when you refer to common goals and things that unite people?
I mean common goals based on change. We all believe in the importance for example, of returning to the fundamentals of our Constitution and making sure that its principles are implemented.
Some within the Green movement are critical of this Constitution you make reference to. Can we therefore conclude that they are not Green?
We have united behind our Constitution and this is what has brought us together. This does not mean however, that our constitution is a divine revelation and as such cannot or should not be changed. None of the constitutions anywhere in the world are divine revelations and they are all reviewed and amended every ten to twelve years. It is unfortunate when the Constitution becomes a body upon which governments trample. What we are saying is that what unites us today is ensuring that the principles within our Constitution are not compromised and that these principles are correctly interpreted and implemented. When we achieve success, when we are finally victorious, we can begin to discuss and review the various elements within our Constitution. I want to once again emphasize that the Constitution is NOT a divine revelation, rather it creates awareness and protects us from anarchism. The unconditional implementation of all principles within our Constitution, principles that will lead us towards democracy, freedom of speech, ensuring that there is no discrimination towards women, freedom of press, free, fair elections that are not rigged, freedom to congregate, is one of our fundamental civic rights.
Some have insisted that the Green movement refers to people as “insiders” and “outsiders”. However, in all our interviews with you to date you have repeatedly stated that there are no insiders or outsiders to the Green movement. My question to you today is do you draw the line anywhere? Which individuals in your opinion cannot be considered as part of the Green movement?
Radical groups who create conflict [People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (MKO)] by their nature cannot be a part of the Green Movement. This dead political group, that the regime is trying to revive has made some amusing claims as of late. Unfortunately the regime whether deliberately or mistakenly has tried hard to revive this dead political group. I am of the opinion that the regime’s activities have been deliberate in order to create so called competition for the Green movement, however, neither myself, Mr. Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami or other entities within our movement view the MKO as part of the Green movement. Since the Green movement belongs to the people, because it is dynamic and alive, the people have decide where to draw the line. Any other group, regardless of their viewpoint is a part of the movement as a result of the elements I pointed out to previously that unite us and God willing, the Green movement will be victorious.
Lately there has been much debate regarding whether or not there is room for criticism within the Green movement, particularly criticism of Mr. Mousavi himself. Some believe that criticism under the current circumstances could undermine the movement and others insist that those who oppose the movement take advantage of this matter. What is your opinion regarding this issue?
Generally speaking, criticism is a good thing and we encourage constructive criticism. I personally believe that those who are never criticized become stagnant, and much like a marsh begin to sink and implode. We welcome all criticism that stems as a result of friendship and interest in the Green movement. Criticism expressed out of animosity will be revealed over time. At the same time, I’d like to add that criticism should not be limited to just Mr. Mousavi it should also include the group consisting of Mr. Khatami, Karroubi, and others including myself; none of whom have ever claimed leadership of the movement and have always encouraged criticism. The fact that criticism of the movement makes the current totalitarian government happy and they view this criticism as a form of weakening of the Green movement is of no importance. I believe that criticism will only lead to the further development and growth of our Green movement. As an artist, I always ask my friends to provide criticism of my work and believe that it is this form of criticism that leads to improvement.
You mentioned that Mr. Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami make no claims to the leadership of the Green movement; and yet, in their slogans, we have heard the people refer to at least Mr. Mousavi and Karroubi repeatedly as the leaders of the Green movement.
That may be true, however, Mr. Mousavi and Karroubi have always said that they stand with the people and the Green movement.
In that case, can you please explain which individuals are responsible for the leadership of the Green movement?
The most important leader for us today is our Constitution that if agreed upon by all will provide both a path for moving forward and a foundation for our vision of the future.
The issue of the movement’s leadership is one that has been discussed and criticized at large. Some claim that Mr. Mousavi is the leader of the movement, even though he himself has said that he stands with the people, while others state that the movement is leaderless and this is a sign of the movements weakness, etc.
What unites us is our Constitution and we believe that we all stand together and with the people. The Green movement is a bottoms-up versus top-down movement and those within it must not feel as though there is pressure from above. The new trend in management is moving from hierarchical structures and processes towards a more flat structure. Even though we are accustomed to a hierarchical structures and attitudes, this new form of linear management is much more effective and efficient. Mr. Mousavi and I have repeatedly said that we stand alongside the movement. We do not claim leadership of the movement as doing so would imply that everyone must agree with us or think as we do.
My last question is with regards to something altogether different. Lately there has been much discussion about the stoning of a women in Tabriz. Currently there are 3 men and 11 women in imminent danger of death by stoning. You have previously expressed your views on the death sentenced. I would like to better understand where you stand with regards to this issue, which Mr. Mohammad Javad Larijani (Head of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Council in Iran) referred to as a religious decree.
I am a strong supporter of women’s rights and against all forms of discrimination against women. I have never seen stoning discussed any where in the holy Quran. I believe that this discussion does not exist in the holy Quran and my personal studies of the Quran have only shown compassion towards humanity. I am highly critical of any form of discrimination against women, do not view these laws as Islamic and believe that they must be corrected. I will never compromise on this issue and have personally prepared myself for the gallows.
Translation by Negar Irani