The last eight years well intentioned people of different political beliefs, different religious faiths, and different cultural perspectives have been quietly asking themselves some vital questions. Is Islam a religion of peace? Is the goal of Islam violent global conquest or rather the persuasion of non-Moslems that Islam is the true religion? There are many good Moslems in our world, but is that because of Islam or in spite of Islam?
These questions will be answered in Iran. There is no question (or there should not be) that the Iranian people -- actually, the different peoples of the nation of Iran, which includes Arabs, Kurds, Baluchi, and other groups, as well as Persians -- are not bad human beings. Before the mullahs, religious minorities like Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, and Ba'hai lived in relative toleration under the Shah, and the Shah was a Moslem and a Persian.
The revolution thirty years ago which threw out the Shah, who had focused on the greatness of Persian civilization much more than on Islam, was a religious rebellion -- an Islamic rebellion -- against a ruler who was considered not to take his faith seriously enough. The revolutionaries got their wish. Iran is called the Islamic Republic, just as China is called the People's Republic. Islam itself is on trial before the world.
It would be one thing if the Guardians (the mullahs who really run Iran) had announced that, whatever the voters in Iran thought, that adherence to Islam required that Ahmadinejad must be re-elected President of Iran. The world might have thought that mistaken, but it would have been honest. That is not what has happened.
The mullahs are not insisting that Ahmadinejad stay in power whether or not he got most of the votes. They are saying -- and they are saying not only to the world, but to the Shiite Moslem citizens of Iran -- that Ahmadinejad actually got most of the votes. In other words, these representatives of pure Islam are lying to other Moslems -- Moslems who are their fellow countrymen -- about who won the election.
Islam does not only prohibit lying to other Moslems, it also condemns it. Stealing is savagely punished. The mullahs are stealing votes. They are lying to those they pretend to protect. If they are truly Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, then the mullahs are saying, themselves, something pretty ghastly about Islam. There is nothing in Islam that requires or even suggests that democracy is the proper form of government. If the mullahs wished to say "We will not hold elections in Iran. We, the mullahs, will govern according to Islamic law" then they would be honest.
But, of course, that is not what the mullahs are doing at all. Moslem lands have been ruled by religious leaders since the inception of Islam, but these emirs, sultans, caliphs and so forth have been honest about it. What is at stake in Iran is whether the mullahs, the leaders of Islam in Iran, are honest. This is a point in history for defenders of Islam to either condemn the mullahs as bad, false Moslems or to stop defending Islam as a religion which believes in truth.
There is no doubt that democracy and Islam can live together. Morocco just had free elections. Malaysia is a democratic state. Turkey has been a democracy for decades. Iraq and Afghanistan held fair election under very difficult circumstances. Pakistan, too, has been more democratic than autocratic. Iran is surrounded by Moslem nations that view democracy as compatible with Islam and view honest vote counting as essential to democracy.
It is time for those Moslems to speak up. It is time for any defenders of Islam as a modern, humane faith to speak up. The mullahs do not rest on Marxism, Fascism, or any other agnostic-ism. They rest solely on Islam. Does Islam mean cheating other Moslems? Does Islam mean holding personal power even when it is held unjustly? The very fact that the mullahs insist that elections be held binds them to not manufacture counterfeit results.
It is time for Moslems who believe that Islam keeps its word to Moslems to denounce the mullahs for what they probably are: indifferent, pseudo-Moslems addicted to power and wealth. Perhaps what Iran needs is not an end to a theocracy, but rather an end to a thugocracy hiding behind religion in order to be autocrats. If Islam is about honor and honesty, then the first people who should be interested in throwing out the mullahs are true Moslems.Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.