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Iranians Want Real Democracy

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the demonstrations in Lebanon in support of independence and self-government, as well as recent elections in Iraq and Palestine, show that "the Middle East is changing. And those states that don't recognize that the Middle East is changing," says Ms. Rice, "[that] try to halt that change – states like Syria or Iran – need now to be, by the international community, isolated and condemned":

"You have a growing chorus of people in the Middle East who are expressing what I think we always knew, which is that you don't have to impose democracy. You impose tyranny. Democracy and the desire to be free [are] as natural as breathing."

Iran's clerical rulers recently received a powerful expression of this demand for democratic change. The Paris-based Iranian Press Service reports that more than five-hundred Iranian scholars, students, artists, journalists, and intellectuals denounced the "incompetence" of Iran's leaders in an open letter to the clerical regime.

Portions of the letter were published in a few of the remaining independent media outlets in Iran, including the newspaper "Sharq." The letter said that Iran's rulers have not only "failed to protect the nation's interest, they also failed to solve [the] Iranian people's basic problems and difficulties." The letter also said that "the only sure way out of the present dramatic and dangerous situation is that an elected leadership bows to the will of the people for both governing the nation and its international relations."

And this is not the only sign that demands for freedom in Iran will not be silenced. There are reports that students at two Iranian universities - in Isfahan and Mashad - recently demonstrated in large numbers against the clerical regime, and called for a national referendum on the question of drafting a new Iranian constitution.

Secretary of State Rice says that in Iran the "unelected few of mullahs" are "going in the opposite direction with a population that has clearly demonstrated that it wants a democratic future." Ms. Rice says, "What the international community needs to do…is to come alongside these people…and to say to them, 'We stand with you in the changes that you're trying to make.'"

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.