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Customer Review

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rich,interesting examination of a complicated place and society, October 27, 2010
This review is from: The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge (Hardcover)
Hooman Majd is an accompliced analyst of the Middle East . Brought up and now a citizen of the U.S but of iranian origin , he manages to be fair to both countries withought doing favours to neither of them . His new book " The Ayatollahs' Democracy " is a study of the further collapse of the relationships between the two nations during the last decade , noticing page after page so many lost chances by both sides to improve them .
His potrait of Iran is revealing . He describes the country like a child trying to be understood but can't , a proud people with a troubled past that demands things they feel it's their proper right but the rest of the world considers fishy at least.

Majd does indeed believe that the last iranian elections were stolen but at the same time , he rightly points out that the recent green movement stands behind a candidate who is himself part of the establishment and has the same position on the nuclear issue as Ahmadinejad . The people rioting in the street are fighting for a much more noble cause : a functional democratic system , he wisely notes , not to overturn the regime .

His study on the iranian psyche and politics is a joy to read but what the gifted writer doesn't do on this book is face the issues the Ayatollah's rulling class puts on the table . Why indeed does a country which sits on oil , want to develop nuclear energy so bad . Pakistan played hide and seek with the international community during the 90's and suddently , at the end of that decade declared it had a nnuclear bomb . That specific country has been on the verge of collapse for months now and the rest of the world can't even dare to imagine what could happen to it's nuclear arsenal . What if indeed Iran does develop a bomb ? What then ? How will the power dynamics in the region change and what will that mean ? Majd doesn't want to deal with such a scenario .

Finally , the book concludes with a chapter about the jewish minority of Iran . To the suprise of maybe many , the country has a jewish population whose representatives say they have a good life there . If Majd wanted to really test the democratic character of the regime though , he should have spoken to many iranian gay men and women . There are many homophobic places in the world ( a Jamaican president once said in a interview that he " didn't like gays and if it's in my power , they won't have a role in the future society of my country " ) but never an official , let alone a president denied a minority their right to exist ! Maybe theocracy and democracy are not compatible after all..
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