"Israel" (above) and "Iran", in Persian
"Israel" (above) and "Iran", in PersianIsrael National News photo: MFA

An Iranian pro-democracy activist tells Israel National News that the image of Persians as fanatical fundamentalist Muslims is, for the most part, incorrect. However, he warns, the people of Iran will most likely join together in opposing any attack on their country out of a deep sense of patriotism.

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran's Fars News Agency, tens of thousands of students appealed to their

We are the followers of Cyrus the Great and his charter. The great king practiced what he believed.

government in recent weeks to "authorize martyrdom-seeking volunteers to leave Iran and fight against Israel in response to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip." However, the nation's religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Iranian television Thursday that the government will not be allowing the would-be jihad fighters to travel to Gaza, because "our hands are tied in this arena."

The day before Khamenei's televised appearance, a communique came out of Iran from a previously unknown organization called the Iranian Student Movement for Freedom claiming that Iranian students are not signing up for the Gazan jihad. "Claiming that the Iranian students are signing up to become martyrs is yet another attempt by the Iranian regime to force the world into believing that the Iranian people support the Islamic regime's global terror," says the communique.

Israel National News turned to Amil Imani, an Iranian-born pro-democracy activist currently living in the United States, for an insight into the true picture within Iran at this critical time. Imani is a widely published columnist, with articles appearing in the popular New Media Journal, American Thinker, Faith Freedom International, and this publication as well. He has also been on hundreds of radio talk shows across the world, including BBC World News.

INN: You once sent me a video purportedly filmed in Tehran of a graffiti artist creating a mural celebrating Israel's Independence Day. Do we have any hard numbers on grass-roots opposition to the Islamic regime?

Imani: First, let me thank you for the invitation. Temperamentally and historically most Iranians are pro-Israel. It's in their genes. By that, I mean, we are the followers of Cyrus the Great and his charter. The great king practiced what he believed. He, for example, helped rebuild the Temple of Solomon which had been destroyed by the Babylonian kings and freed some 40,000 or more Jews who had been imprisoned and kept as slaves by the Babylonians, empowering the Jewish people to return to their homeland. Something that was followed by Cyrus's heirs up to this date.

There are only a handful of Iranians, who are directly or indirectly paid by the present regime, who show enmity for Israel, but I think deep down, even they pretend and do not mean it. We have had nothing against the State of Israel or the Jews and we do not have even to this very date. We have always been protective of the Jews in Iran. That is a fact that has been proved many times over.

Sadly, the Jewish people have been used as scapegoats for many centuries by a variety of non-Jews. Regrettably, Muslims and Islamists, for their parts, have adopted scapegoating as an article of faith. The Muslims blame the Jews for all kinds of heinous things, dating back to the time of Muhammad himself.

Realistically, 80 to 90 percent of the entire population of Iran truly despise the current regime. In recent weeks, many cities in Iran have been the sources of ferocious anti-government protest, but, as always, the Western media has ignored reporting it.

80 to 90 percent of the entire population of Iran truly despise the current regime.

INN: How deep has Islamist brainwashing penetrated in Iran?

Imani: Today the Iranian people are having to carry on the work that the dissidents in the Soviet Union had to do at one time - and are suffering the same kinds of oppression and imprisonment and intimidation. The regime has spent billions of dollars for its Islamic propaganda and mass brainwashing. They have tried everything in their power to take away the joys of life from people and make them vessels of Allah. For the past 30 years, very similar to the "Great Purge", the mullahs, the agents of terror, have imposed an Islamic cultural revolution by forcing a prolonged indoctrination of Islamic dogma on people of all ages, particularly the young children. The ultimate goal was to "Islamicize" Iran's universities and schools. Ostensibly mandated to enforce the Islamic Dress Code, enacted in May 2006, armed guards are posted at all centers of higher education to prevent anti-regime demonstrations.

As more time passes, the mullahs are in more trouble. After the mullahs' uprising and their brutal acts, the Iranians found out that they were cheated badly by the Toodeh Party, as well as all the so-called left-leaning intellectuals; therefore, they had no choice but to find out how, why and by whom they were cheated. The result is that they went after soul searching. They went back to rediscover their roots, with the result that today almost all the young generation, which comprises more than half of the 70 million citizens, are more aware of their glorious pre-Islamic past than ever before.

Islam has become taboo for the new generation, so much so that it is taken as an insult to call any Persian "Muslim". This phenomenon is more prevalent among the Iranian diasporas all over the world. They are renouncing Islam and adhering to Zoroastrian faith. This very fact indicates the depth of the mullah's Islamic policy, which is doomed to failure.

INN: What is driving the pro-regime support rallies and statements we do see in the Iranian streets?

Imani: Distribution of money, bribery and brute force. The government employees are forced to participate in all kinds of makeshift demonstrations by the Islamist government thugs, as well as paid-for professional demonstrators from other places, including Lebanese Hizbullah, Palestinian terrorists and Afghani people. They have buses, full of people ready to go for these shows of deceit.

Part II of this interview will appear tomorrow, Tuesday, January 13, 2009.