A Sit Down With Two Iranian Clerics
by Anthony Stasi
May 17, 2011 | 7818 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With all of the change happening in the Middle East, we wonder who will be in charge of the government in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Are these student-protester uprisings going make it easier for the United States to sit down with foreign governments? Or are these nations going become more nationalist?

Last week, I was part of a small panel of people that met with two Iranian Islamic clerics at Columbus School of Law in Washington. These two students were concerned about ethics and moral behavior, and they were penning a code book of how to go about life according to such standards. An American judge sitting to my left kept bringing the conversation back to their work on ethics.

Westerners get weary when we hear that there is a religion-based book on how to live. It goes against our notions that church and government is not always a good mix. But these two gentleman were from Qom, Iran, which is the cradle of Shi’a Islam, so in other words, a very holy city.

Most of the conversation was about comparing their justice system to our justice system. Law professors continued to nuance the guests with esoteric case law, and I am sure their attention drifted elsewhere. But I wanted to know what a country like Iran, with a young population, felt about its own system.

Do the younger Iranians use the court system? Do they trust it? It was a valid question considering the protests that took place in Iran not too long ago, and the unrest in neighboring countries.

“The young people use the system more than the older people, they trust it more,” said one of the clerics. I was a little surprised. In a person-to-person conversation, I told them that I was exploring poverty issues in the United States, and was curious how they dealt with that in Iran.

However, they were only concerned with social issues as they related to ethics, and in their understanding of ethics, there is only one way to interpret that issue. There is room to talk to the younger Iranian students, but there should be a realistic expectation of introducing new ideas from the West into their system – at least for now.

Good Luck Audrey

My one-time political opponent, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, has retired from the state government and is now the new Queens County clerk. Audrey was thought to be on the verge of retirement for some time, but her seat was pretty safe, and she never made that talked-about run for Queens borough president.

I once lived in the same district as Pheffer, and now that she works in Borough Hall, I am still a stone’s throw away (figuratively speaking). I will say one thing about Pheffer’s time in the assembly: I was not often in agreement with her voting record, and I proved that when I tried to unseat her in 2000.

But the following two terms after that election, she did address issues that concerned me, such as aid to Beach Channel High School for its sports program and helping to develop parts of East Rockaway. If your opponent addresses your issues, there is no real need to mount a second challenge. (Unless it’s about a candidate’s ego, and in my case it was not.)

Good luck, Audrey. I am glad that the seat in the 23rd District will have a fresh face, but she did work hard for the many years that she held that seat.

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