Raftohuset hosted Mr. Kjetil Selvil and Dr.Uichol Kim in the monthly Wednesday Dialogue, which was titled “Past and Prospects for the Iranian Reforms-Movement”, which was held at the seminar room at Raftohuset. Mr. Kjetil Selvik is a junior researcher at the Middle East Department of the University of Oslo. He is currently finishing his Phd-thesis on Iran`s industrial bourgeoise at the Institut dÈdudes Politiques in Paris. Dr. Uichol Kim is visiting Professor at Rokkan Center and Faculty of Law, university of Bergen. He has edited the book “Democracy, Human Rights and Islam in Modern Iran”, with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and Dr. Henriette Sinding.

The two visitors were introduced by. Mr. Arne Lynngård, the chairman of the board of Raftostiftelsen. He spoke about Raftohuset organizations activities to the Norwegian society. Mr. Selvik started the lecture with an introduction about the Iranian revolution in 1979. He explained the meaning of “willayat al-Faqih”- the new religious leaders of new Iran in 1979. Mr. Selvik pointed out the struggle between radicals and the conservatives in the new Iranian state in the 1980`s. The radicals wanted to exploit the revolution; they wanted also to spread the revolution to all Islamic countries. At the end of 1980`s and the beginning of 1990`s, there were internal and external changes faced the Iranian revolution. The first change was the failure of the both sides Iran and Iraq to gain the war. Secondly was the death of the spiritual and first leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayyat Ullah Khumini in 1989. Third one was, the failure exporting the Islamic revolution to other countries in the region. The fourth factor for these changes was the decline of the Soviet Union.

At the beginning of 1990`s, there was a new struggle between the two Iranian leaders, Rafsanjani and Khaminai. Moreover there were intellectual change and kind of changing views about the conception of Islamic state and calling for new reforms. Mr. Selvik mentioned two models of those intellectual changes in his lecture. First one led by Abdulkarim Soroush, who considered Islamic state is a danger for Islam. Soroush also advocated secularism and modern reforms. The second model was Mohamed Mojtahid Shabestani, with his idea “God gives the values”.

The religious leaders have faced the reform movement in Iran after 1996, the appearance of the recent president Khatami and the student’s demonstrations in the Iranian universities, faced by the religious leaders. The political system in Iran is control by radicals, who interfered the Iranian parliament elections; this is a difficult problem to the Iranian reforms and democracy.

Dr. Kim completed the discussion and he gave a valuable contribution about Iran. He clarified the difference between Sunni and Shià on the Islamic law. Dr. Kim pointed out the coming change in Iran came from the USA policy towards Iran specially when George. W. Bush included Iran in the axes of evil. So the threat of USA obliged Iran for this kind of change now. He expected that Iran would gain a nuclear weapon, under these pressures from outside and inside. Surprisingly, Dr. Kim confirmed what is going in Iran is far a way from Islam and the Islamic system. For example Abu Bakr – the successor of the prophet Mohammad was elected not appointed. Dr. Kim raised the question: where are the Millions and Billions from the profits of oil gone? Simply he answered, “It goes to the Iranian leaders”. Meanwhile, during the Mohammad’s era at Medina there was a kind of welfare system for helping the poor Muslims, like the same system of welfare in Norway in our present days.

Finally this discussion was closed with the main question, what about the future of Iran and its reforms? Dr. Kim gave open answers, the truth and the future of Iran no one knows about it, and what will happen later on. But the hope will come from the new generation of Iranian people with their interests of education and democracy, mainly the students of the universities.