Michael Moore, don't do it!
American filmmaker Michael Moore, in an interview with an Iranian magazine, criticized an article I wrote urging him not to visit the Islamic regime.
According to MehrNews, Moore in his interview said, "When the news of my (upcoming) visit to Iran was published a few years ago, the right-wing media in the U.S. ... published some very critical and hateful articles. They even published faked news about me. So I thought I should postpone visiting Iran to another time.
"They explained to me that my style has many advocates in Iran. So obviously I was happy. I am now waiting for an opportunity to travel to Iran," Moore said. "Even if they do not invite me this time, I will go anyway."
It is obvious that Moore did not read my piece, which was published on Sept. 5, 2011 in the Washington Times, urging him not to provide legitimacy to a regime that is among the world's top human rights violators.
I explained in that piece that a noted figure, who claims to stand up for those who have been oppressed, should understand the realities of the Islamic regime.
Since the 1979 revolution, I wrote, the regime has executed tens of thousands of Iranian youths without giving them the right to a defense. During the summer of 1988 alone, about 30,000 young people were executed and buried in mass graves because they were accused of being "mohareb" (an enemy of Allah) all because they objected to the harsh rule of the clerics.
I urged Moore to understand that Iranians have no rights. Women are flogged for failing to wear the Islamic hijab; men are beaten for drinking, even in the privacy of their home. People suffer amputation for stealing; they are stoned for adultery; and rape, torture and hanging are common for speaking out against the clerics. Thousands of Iranian girls, boys, poets, writers, activists, teachers, artists and others from every walk of life remain in Iranian prisons without the right to defend themselves. The prisons across Iran are filled to the brim. Not a day goes by in which an Iranian somewhere is not executed. Public hangings are routine, and the regime recently showcased its invention of a machine to cut off hands of those charged with theft.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary general of the regime's High Council for Human Rights, has publicly defended stoning and the chopping off of hands and feet. He has called homosexuality a disease, which is punishable by death. And anyone opposing the regime is branded an enemy of Allah and executed.
Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a hard-line cleric, in 2011 urged officials to enforce Islamic rules. He declared that anyone confronting Islam should either be executed or have his hands and feet chopped off. He also stated that in enforcing these rules, there is no room for democracy or human rights.
Moore does not need to go far to understand the facts about the brutal regime in Iran. A bit of research on the Internet should provide him with sufficient information to realize the horror under which the Iranian people live.
So I ask Moore, has his opposition to U.S. policy altered his ability to reason? Is it possible for him to stand up for the rights of people at home but ally himself with torturers abroad?
Iranians don't have a free voice or a free media to question Moore's motives. His actions would give legitimacy to the regime's dictators and be just another heartache for Iranians, who for so long have sought freedom and democracy.
I urge Moore to walk on the right side of history and not appease the evil in Tehran. Instead, make a movie about the suffering Iranians and their struggle for freedom, for that will make him a hero to them.
If Moore does his homework, he will see that the regime has used many before him as a propaganda tool, showcasing them in their media. But once they are done with you, Mr, Moore, you will feel cheaper than used gum.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book "A Time to Betray" (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).