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12 Bahman: Khomeini Returns

01 Feb 2009 21:54No Comments


On this day 30 years ago, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile. 140 international reporters accompanied him on the chartered Air France Boeing 747 flight from Paris -- "The Mayflower," one Israeli scholar called it. As many of us watched, and as recounted here by Elaine Sciolino, when the jet entered Iranian airspace, Peter Jennings, then a correspondent for ABC News, "asked the obvious question, and [Sadegh] Ghotbzadeh dutifully did the translating":

"Ayatollah, would you be so kind as to tell us how you feel about being back in Iran?"

"Hichi," the ayatollah replied. "Nothing."

"Hichi?" Ghotbzadeh asked him. Even he seemed incredulous at the response.

"Hich ehsasi nadaram," the ayatollah said for emphasis. "I don't feel a thing."

In an unrelated comment, on the subject of Mr. Khomeini's personality, the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shares this story on his Web site:

"The mother of a POW came up to me and said, 'I have received news that my son, who had been taken captive, is now martyred. Go to Imam [Khomeini] and tell him that it does not matter and that I am not sad about it...'

"When I went into Imam's room, I forgot to tell him what the woman had said. I remembered it after I got out. I told one of the gentlemen there that there was one more thing that I should have told him [Imam Khomeini].

"He came to the door and I went to him. When I told him what the woman had said, his face was twisted with sorrow and his eyes got tearful. That was really strange. I felt regretful about what I had said. A great many of our youth had been martyred and that was no joke. 72 of our most prominent revolutionary figures were sacrificed, but he [Imam Khomeini] did not even turn a hair -- he appeared as if nothing had happened. But he got tearful at the news of the martyrdom of a POW. I could not understand what that reaction meant. You never know how to describe his personality."

For photos of today's ceremony marking the occasion, click here.

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