Should Canada Re-establish Relations with Iran? The answer should be a resounding NO!

The fact that for the first time in four decades Iranian people did not chant any religious slogans was further evidence that Iranians want a secular government, not a "reformed" Islamic one. 


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Re-establishing relations is a terrible idea

The Islamic Regime’s recent crackdown on Iranian protesters has renewed the debate around Canada’s diplomatic relations with Iran.

Most recently Tony Burman’s article in the Toronto Star attempted to rationalize a case for “building bridges with Iran”, an article so far from the reality in Iran, that as an Iranian Canadian I felt compelled to redress. 

One of the main fallacies in Burman’s article is the assertion that Iranian people want “reform” of the current Islamic Regime when in fact by chanting slogans like “down with the Islamic Regime in Iran” “No more Islamic Regime in Iran”, “death to Khamenei” and most significantly “death to Rouhani” the so called “reformist Iranian president, protesters made it clear that they no longer are content with the possibility of “reform” from within and want real and deep rooted change which entails the overthrow of the entire Islamic Regime.

The fact that for the first time in four decades Iranian people did not chant any religious slogans was further evidence that Iranians want a secular government, not a “reformed” Islamic one. 

Burman goes on to assert Iran is “more open than many other countries in the Middle East, as the status of women are better than in Saudi Arabia and the electoral democracy is more open than in Egypt.”

Cherry picked Examples

It’s important to note while women in Iran are able to drive (something Saudi women will be able to do very soon) or can work outside of the home, they still require permission from their husbands to work and travel.

The family law system is still very much stacked against them and they are subjected to a mandatory Islamic dress code which if disobeyed will result in arrest, fines, imprisonment, and lashing! 

Iranian women have fought tooth and nail for their basic rights in over four decades, they’ve endured arrests, beatings, torture, rape and lashing, and yet they continue to fight and continue to be in the forefront of any movement that demands change in Iran.

If today women in Iran have more rights than women in Saudi Arabia, it’s because they’ve risked their lives and have fought for it, it’s not because Islamic Regime in Iran is somehow more pro-woman than other dictatorships in the Middle East!

As far as the “electoral system in Iran” Burman fails to elaborate on the [s]election process where women and any individual that doesn’t fully support the Islamic Regime is not even allowed to run as a candidate.

There is no mention of the few candidates who are allowed to run being handpicked by a council that is also the advisor to the “supreme leader”.

The current “reformist” President Rouhani himself was handpicked by this council and allowed to run for the presidency after showing his loyalty to the Islamic Regime.

When it comes to the “voting” process many western journalists fail to mention or maybe don’t know that Iranians are forced into participating in s[elections] because of the requirement of the “voting stamp.”

“Incentivized” Voting

After “voting” each person’s birth certificate is stamped as confirmation that they have participated in the [s]election. Without this stamp students are not given their report cards or diplomas, university students are not allowed to graduate and their graduating certificates are withheld preventing them from perusing jobs in their field.

People who work for government agencies face losing their jobs unless they show that they have participated in the s[elections]. During the most recent Iran protests, many new videos surfaced with Iranians talking about being forced into participating in [s]elections and the implications of not participating.

The dictator standard

Let’s not forget Saddam Hussein had regular elections and won by 99% of the vote every time, but those elections not unlike the ones in Iran were anything but democratic!

While Burman makes a case for Canada to engage the so-called “reformist” faction of the Islamic Regime I want to make a case for Canada to engage and hear the people of Iran and their cries for freedom and secularism.

The government in Iran is not a legitimate government in the eyes of its own people, and Canada should respect that by keeping the Islamic Regime embassy closed and not re-establishing diplomatic relations.  Any re-engagement with Iran will give the Islamic Regime a legitimacy that it does not have and does not deserve. 

As well the opening of the embassy and re-establishment of diplomatic ties is a great concern for many Iranian Canadians who are outspoken opponents of the Regime and have been forced to escape from Iran to save their own lives and lives of their loved ones. 

Presence of Islamic Regime entity in Canada has always been and will continue to be a cause for concern for the safety of people like myself in Canada. 

Ultimately Iranians will determine their own fate and I don’t think we are too far from the day when people of Iran will rid themselves of the Islamic Regime. 

In the meantime, Canada would do well to hear their voices and support them in their quest to live in a free country under a democratic and secular government. 


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Sayeh Hassan

Sayeh Hassan is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer, blogger, and an advocate for human rights and democracy in Iran.

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