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Islam and Democracy: Conversation with Akbar Ganji, Iranian Journalist and Human Rights Activist; August 10, 2006, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

This interview is also available in Farsi (pdf).

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Akbar Ganji who is Iran's most prominent political dissident. He is a man of ideas and a man of action, a writer and a journalist. His articles have been collected in books such as The Dungeon of Ghosts and The Red Eminence, The Grey Eminences, which expose the leadership of Iran's involvement in a series of killings of writers and dissidents. His subsequent imprisonment for this courageous exercise of freedom of the press led to torture. From his jail cell he has written A Republican Manifesto, laying out the basis for a full-fledged democracy in Iran. His extraordinary, courageous efforts won him international recognition, and he is a winner of the 2006 World Association of Newspapers prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom Award. We are joined in the studio by Arash Aramesh of UC Berkeley, who will interpret.

  1. The Nature of Revolutions ... early membership in the Revolutionary Guards ... the anti-democratic nature of revolutions ... reign of fear ... closure of options produced revolutions ... the French Revolution as a bad model ... why the American Revolution was different
  2. Religion and the State ... ancient religions vs. modern concepts of rights ... separation of institutions of church and state ... abuse of religion by the powerful... foreign policy decisions... nuclear weapons: moral and legal vs. political realities ... Western hypocrisy: the case of Libya ... the need for transparent and public negotiations
  3. Being an Iranian Journalist ... from Revolutionary Guard to the Ministry of Culture ... philosophy ... investigating political murders ... writing about fascism ... social science and fluid outcomes ... imprisonment and survival
  4. The Nature of Fascism ... one voice ... culture reduced to propaganda ... the hope of the telecommunications revolution ... globalization and the weakening of nation states ... the force of the market economy
  5. Striving for Democracy ... military aggression weakens democractic forces ... injustice in the Middle East ... growth of fundamentalism ... negotiating with the West ... women's rights ... how to advance democracy in the Middle East ... supporting Iranian democratic movements ... advice for students

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