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16 Azar: Iran's Student Day

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

06 Dec 2009 18:4649 Comments
nixon+tehran+university.jpg[ feature ] Iranians have been struggling for at least the past 150 years to establish a democratic political system in which the rule of law is supreme. Iranian university students -- and even high school students after the 1979 Revolution -- have been at the forefront of this struggle.

The first modern school in Iran, Daralfonoon, was founded by Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir [1807-1852], who was perhaps the first true reformer in Iran's modern history. He was Chief Minister [Prime Minister] to Naser-eddin Shah [1831-1896] of the Qajar dynasty. The first modern Iranian university however wasn't founded until 1934. A few years earlier, in 1928, professor Mahmoud Hessaby had proposed to Ali Asghar Hekmat, then Reza Shah's Minister of Culture, to establish a comprehensive institution of higher education that would cover most of the sciences. After Reza Shah agreed to the plan, Hekmat, in consultation with the French architect Andre Godard, selected and designed the master plan of the university's main campus. It opened its doors in 1934. After the 1979 Revolution, the government rapidly expanded the number of universities. Iran has now more than 70 universities and institutions of higher education.

Since 1934, Iranian university campuses have always been a hotbed of political activism and protest. Although Reza Shah established a modern bureaucracy and helped modernize Iran, his rule also represented one of the darkest periods in terms of political freedom. After the Allied Forces invaded and occupied Iran in 1941, they deposed Reza Shah and replaced him with his young son, Mohammad Reza Shah [1919-1980].

Iran enjoyed relative political and press freedom between 1941 and 1953. Many political organizations were founded during this period, chief among them was the Tudeh (masses) Party, a classical pro-Soviet Union communist party (wrapped in nationalism to be more attractive to Iranians). In the 1940s, the Tudeh Party established Sazman-e Javanan-e Hezb-e Tudeh of Iran [the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party of Iran], which was active at Tehran University and a few other institutions of higher education.

To counter the influence of the Tudeh Party, Iran's future prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan [1907-1995], then dean of the faculty of engineering (FOE) at the University of Tehran [the engineering school that the author attended in the 1970s], helped establish Anjoman Islami Daneshjooyan [Muslim Student Association] in the 1940s. At the same time, a young university student, Mohammad Nakhshab [1922-1975], had started a popular group called Socialist haa-ye Khodaparast [Socialist Worshipers of God], which advocated social justice based on socialism minus its dialectical materialism. Other political groups, such as the Jebhe Melli [National Front], also had their supporters on campuses. By the late 1940s, when other universities had been founded in Shiraz [1946], Tabriz [1947], Mashhad [1949], and later in Isfahan [1950], universities, and particularly Tehran University, were totally political.

After the CIA/MI6 coup of August 18, 1953, when the popular government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was put back on the throne, campuses became even more political. In the immediate aftermath of the coup, an extremely repressive and oppressive environment prevailed in Iran. The universities remained the most important places where protests against the anti-nationalist and foreign-sponsored coup were taking place.

On November 15, 1953, the coup government announced that Richard M. Nixon, then Vice President to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, would pay a visit to Iran on December 9, 1953, presumably to celebrate with the Shah the demise of the Mosaddegh government and restoration of the monarchy. Nixon's visit was also supposed to demonstrate the Shah's full support for the United States. At that time however, anti-American feelings were running very high in Iran. Despite the extreme repression, the Shah had not been able to completely crush the opposition. The news of Nixon's trip angered the frustrated population, especially the opposition.

On December 5, 1953, the coup government officially re-established diplomatic relations with Britain. Denis Wright was sent to Tehran as the chargé d'affaires, and stayed on as counsellor until 1955, after the arrival of the new ambassador. The resumption of diplomatic relations further angered the people, and in particular the political dissidents and the university students.

On December 6, 1953, students of the Tehran University school of medicine, pharmacy, law and political science, engineering, and dentistry demonstrated against Nixon's visit. [All but the dental school are on the west side of campus and could therefore easily join ranks.] They were chanting, "[Iran's] oil is ours," and "death to the Shah." The Shah's Guard-e Jaanbaaz [which roughly means 'crusader guard'] stormed the campus and brutally attacked the students. The demonstrations spilled onto the streets, and the guards injured and arrested many students. Simultaneous demonstrations had taken place even in some notable Tehran high schools, such as the Sharaf and Alborz high schools.

On the morning of December 7, 1953, the guards entered the FOE, the heart of the protests, to prevent any repeat demonstrations. Though there had not been any demonstrations yet that day, the excuse given was that some students had mocked the police, and the police wanted to arrest them. Two soldiers and an officer went to a class to make the arrests. But the professor, Shams Malak Ara, asked them to leave. As they arrested two students, one student jumped on a desk and began shouting for help. Shams Malak Ara notified the Dean of the FOE.

The soldiers and the officer then went to the office of Dean of the FOE, Mohandes Khalili [who was later active in the National Front]. He also protested the intrusion, and his deputy, Dr. Rahim Abedi, was ordered to ring the bells to notify the students. Students gathered in the hall on the first floor of the school. The guards who had been on alert invaded the FOE building. According to Dr. Abedi, 68 bullets were fired. Three young students -- Mostafa Bozorgnia, Ahmad Ghandchi, Mehdi Shariatrazavi -- were killed. In his memoirs, Dr. Mostafa Chamran [1932-1981], Iran's first Defense Minister after the 1979 Revolution, who was a student at the FOE at that time, described the events of the day as follows:

I could hear the sound of machine guns. Then a horrible and painful silence shook me up. Then, I could hear the painful voice of the injured [students]. I can still picture Daneshkadeh Fanni [FOE] on that day and the following days. Why did they rain bullets on the University [of Tehran]? Why and how were three of our best friends, Bozorgnia, Ghandchi, and Shariatrazavi, martyred?

The daily Etela'at [information] published the report by the Coroner's office on December 8, 1953, that reported the cause of death of the three young students:

1. Mostafa Bozorgnia, a student at Daneshkadeh Fanni [FOE], died from a bullet that entered [his body] from the right side of [his] chest and exited through his left arm. The bullet crushed the bones in his arm and caused severe bleeding, which killed him. He had also been injured with the tip of a spear that had penetrated his body by 15 cm.

2. Shariatrazavi, a student at Daneshkadeh Fanni, died only due to injuries inflicted by a spear tip. It had completely crushed the bones in his right thigh, which had caused severe bleeding. He had also been hit by a bullet in his right arm, which could not have been the cause of his death.

3. The third dead person, student Ahmad Ghandchi, died by a bullet that had entered his body through the abdomen and destroyed his internal organs.

Ghandchi had also suffered from severe burning. The bullets had cracked the hot water pipes and sprayed him with hot water. The three had been taken to a military hospital. Bozorgnia and Shariatrazavi had died instantly. Ghandchi died after 24 hours after suffering from severe bleeding and burns.

Ghandchi and Bozorgnia were buried in Emamzadeh Abdollah cemetery in Ray, a religious town on the southern edge of Tehran. Shariatrazavi's family had been told that he too had been buried there but, in fact, he had been buried in Mesgar Aabaad, an old cemetery east of Tehran. His family went there overnight, opened his grave, and transferred his remains to Emamzadeh Abdollah, where he was buried next to his two martyred friends.

The coup government of General Fazlollah Zahedi claimed that the military commander who had ordered the soldiers to shoot at the students had done so because he had become emotional and agitated after hearing the students chant. However, the same officer was later promoted due to his "service" to the country on that day! In fact, Bozorgnia's older brother, Fazlollah, himself a police officer, said that military commanders had told the soldiers that they would be rewarded if they killed any demonstrators.

The coup government banned traditional Islamic memorials held in Iran on the 3rd and 7th day after the death of a Shia. But due to huge public pressure, it relented and allowed the 40th day memorial to be held in Emamzadeh Abdollah. It allowed 300 people to attend the memorial, 100 from each family. The three families printed invitation cards with photos of their loved ones. But the coup government, under the excuse that the cards must be stamped to be official, stamped out the three pictures! But, the long street between the Shush Square in southern Tehran and the cemetery, the main road between Tehran and Ray, was completely filled with a huge crowd of mourners. No speeches were allowed.

To appease the families of the three students, the Shah offered to pay their expenses to go to Iraq and visit the shrine of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad; the third Shia Imam is considered the symbol of martyrdom. The families turned down the offer, and wrote strongly-worded letters of protest instead.

Who were the three students?

16+azar+students.jpgMostafa Bozorgnia was born in 1934. His father was a colonel in the Shah's imperial army, and his older brother, Fazlollah, was a police officer. Mostafa had graduated from the Daralfonoon High School with a double major, mathematics and natural sciences, the two most difficult and prestigious in Iran. He was in the second year of his studies at the FOE when he was murdered. He is said to have been a supporter of the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party. In an interview with the daily Kayhan in 1960, Fazlollah Bozorgnia stated that his brother always visited poor neighbourhoods of Tehran and distributed food and clothes there. He had stated that he would oppose the Shah until his death. He had also made a movie called "The Error" in which he appeared as one of the characters. Dr. Mostafa Chamran was a friend and classmate of his.

Ahmad Ghandchi was born in 1933. He graduated from Sharaf High School in Tehran at the age of 16, and was in the second year of his studies when he was murdered. According to his brother, he was a practicing Muslim and a supporter of the nationalist political organization, Dr. Mosaddegh's National Front.

Mehdi Shariatrazavi was born in 1932 in the religious city of Mashhad [in northeastern Iran]. His family called him Azar [fire]. He was in the second year of his studies in the FOE when he was murdered. It has been said that he was a supporter of the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party, but his sister, Dr. Pouran Shariatrazavi, has denied this. She has said that her brother was a religious young man and a practicing Muslim. Their older brother, Ali Asghar Shariatrazavi [who was called Toofan (hurricane) by his family], was killed defending Iran when the Allied Forces invaded Iran in 1941. Dr. Pouran Shariatrazavi married Dr. Ali Shariat [1933-1977], the distinguished sociologist and Islamic thinker. Today, a large hospital in Tehran, Shahid [martyr] Mehdi Shariatrazavi Hospital, is named in his honor.

Since 1953, Azar 16 (7 December) has been commemorated every year as Student Day, as a symbol of the struggle of Iranian students against dictatorship. For years the bloodstain of the three students on the pillars of the main hall of the FOE were preserved. For 24 years, the Shah's regime followed the bloody event on 16 Azar with other confrontation with university students all over Iran. The students of the faculty of engineering were, and still are, the bastions of the Iranian students' movement for democracy.

shariatrazavi.jpgIn the 1960s and 70s, one of the main publications of the Confederation of Iranian Students outside Iran was called "16 Azar," and the day commemorated by Iranian students abroad by demonstrating against the Shah's regime [and more recently against the Islamic Republic].

In the 1970s, when I was a student in the FOE, we always commemorated 16 Azar. My freshman year in 1972-1973 also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Shah's so-called White Revolution of February 1973. The year before, 16 Azar was particularly powerful and marked by large demonstrations at the University of Tehran. The demonstrations in 1974 were so large that the engineering faculty was shut down for the entire 1974-1975 year. In 1975, two of my classmates, Mohammad Ali Bagheri and Hamid Aryan, who had started their studies at the FOE in the same year that I had, were killed by the Shah's security forces. In fact, many of my contemporaries in the FOE were jailed or killed, either by the Shah's regime or the Islamic Republic after the 1979 Revolution.

Interestingly, the monarchists tried for years to eliminate 16 Azar from the list of important days to stage political commemorations and demonstrations in Iran. However, they never succeeded. This event has been part of Iran's struggle to establish a democratic political system, and is now an important part of Iran's history.

This year 16 Azar has particular significance, as the Green Movement has vowed to use the occasion to protest the repression of the Islamic Republic and the violent crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations after the rigged June 12 presidential election. The occasion will also be used to demand the release of political prisoners, and call for the punishment of those responsible for the brutal crimes after the election, among many other legitimate demands.

As Dr. Ali Shariati said,

These three drops of blood [of the three murdered students] on the face of our universities are still fresh and warm. I wish I could cover these three Godly fires with the ashes of my burnt out body. But, no, I should live and preserve the three fires in my chest [and memory].

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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Thank you Dr. Sahimi for another insightful article.

Keivan / December 7, 2009 12:56 AM


To remind people of the protests about to happen in Iran. To highlight to the world the people of Iran are as sick of this regime as the rest of the world. please show your support. show your love and shout for freedom for the Iranian people.

Together the greens will be victorious = همه با هم سبز خواهیم ماند تا پیروزی
The regime of cowards and dogs will not defeat us =و این رجیم بی وجدان ما را نمی تواند بشکند
Green blood flows through our veins خون سبز در رگهای ما جریان دارد=
With our strength we will be free = با مقاومت واستادگی آزادی از آن ماست
Death holds no fear for us =از مرگ نمی هراسیم
Together we are strong = با هم قوی خواهیم بود
From this blood soaked earth the ground will grow green =از خون ریخته شده بر زمینسبز خواهد رویید.
Iran is a beautiful country = ایران کشوری زیباست
Death to the dictators and their dogsمرگ بر این دیکتاتور بی وجدان.=
Long live Iran =زنده باد ایران
Long live the Green =زنده باد سبز
........................................ ........................................ ........................................ ......................
کشور من/ تو / ما ایران است. ایرانی آزاد و آباد.آزادی از آن ماست.
همه با هم یکی همه با هم سبز / تا ایستادگی تا مقاومت/ تا پیروزی.
سبز در رگهای ما جریان دارد/ در ریشه هامان.و از خون ریخته شده بر زمین / سبز خواهد رویید
مرگ بر دیکتاتور.
زنده باد سبز. زنده باد ایران.
ایران سر فراز من...

Jambonjamasb / December 7, 2009 1:32 AM

Thanks fr the history lesson. I learned a lot.

Hamid / December 7, 2009 2:08 AM

My grandfather succeeded Dr. Hekmat as Minister of Culture and became the second president (head administrator) of Tehran University.

As a dedicated secularist and fervent nationalist, as well as one of the school's founding figures, my grandfather would be appalled at the use of the university for anything other than its intended purpose- a school of advanced learning. That said, I'm sure he would be equally appalled by some of the changes made to the curriculum, as well as the treatment meted out to certain elements of the faculty.

Pirouz / December 7, 2009 4:24 AM

This statement is a joke: "Although Reza Shah established a modern bureaucracy and helped modernize Iran, his rule also represented one of the darkest periods in terms of political freedom." The man single handedly brought our country out of dark ages, reduced the power of clergy in Iran which our fathers foolishly restored back and caused today's misery in our country, Freed Iranian women from Islamic oppression and enabled them to gain education and jobs in the highest levels of society, Secularism, modernity, respect around the world, flourishing economy. What else was the man supposed to do? What did the so called revolutionaries achieved for our country? 30 years of oppression, murder, torture, imprisonment, rape and hopelessness. Don't you people have any shame? You have ruined my generation. What have you done for us except cheap talks and accusations? Long live the Pahlavi Kings. May God rest their souls. Death to barbarians running Iran.

Peyman, Iman, Firoozeh, Babak, Lida.... / December 7, 2009 4:51 AM

Peyman, Iman, Firoozeh, Babak, Lida....

"What else was the man supposed to do? "

Open up the political process, that's what he could have done and refused to do and chose to oppress instead of giving people their freedom. Had it not been for him we would not have seen a revolution.

Anthony / December 7, 2009 9:03 PM

This piece has some significant errors in fact and displays an incredible amount of unsupported bias.

Among them:

"After the CIA/MI6 coup of August 18, 1953, when the popular government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was put back on the throne, campuses became even more political. In the immediate aftermath of the coup, an extremely repressive and oppressive environment prevailed in Iran. The universities remained the most important places where protests against the anti-nationalist and foreign-sponsored coup were taking place."

- There is no reliable source of information that proclaims Mossadegh's government was "popular". The only referendum held to determine its legitimacy is widely considered to have been rigged (a 99% vote in favor of Mossadegh disbanding one of the houses of the legislature).

- The Shah never abdicated his Constitutionally mandated position so it would have been impossible for the US/UK to, "put [him] back on the throne."

- There was nothing "anti-nationalist" about the counter-coup-- in fact, the counter-coup helped assure that the Constitutionally mandated power of the Shah was upheld.

"Open up the political process, that's what he could have done and refused to do and chose to oppress instead of giving people their freedom. Had it not been for him we would not have seen a revolution."

Oh, you mean such as providing women the right to vote? Such as setting up programs to fight illiteracy and encourage democracy at the local level? Do you need me to keep going on about the White Revolution or are you motivated enough to research those efforts yourself?

RWL / December 7, 2009 10:38 PM

Peyman, Iman, Firoozeh, Babak, Lida....
But of course. They have to knock the Pahlavi kings. They have nothing to show for the last 30 years. Did you think otherwise? These people cannot make a single point based on their own accomplishments. You have a valid point. What accomplishments? Theirs is an old and cheap strategy, simply ineffective and perhaps counterproductive."Had he opened up the political process", but we fail to ask ourselves a simple yet realistic question. Was the nation ready when the majority of the population was illiterate and archaic in its approach? The revolution of 1979 proved even the so called society's intellectuals failed to guide the nation in a right direction. We must learn to point the finger at ourselves. We must learn from our mistakes in the last three decades rather than trying to dodge our responsibilities by pointing the finger at those who undeniably served our country. It is not always someone else's fault.

Parvaneh / December 7, 2009 11:01 PM


You know how ridiculous and foolish you sound "long live the Pahlavi Kings. May god rest their souls". The barbarians are the hardliners and other characters of the Islamic regime as well as the Pahlavis. It is sad to see that there are Iranians out there still looking for their kings and queens to rule them so that they can worship them.

As Dr. Sahimi has written, Iran needs to be a country that the only thing supreme is the rule of law and not a Supreme Leader or a king or some other political group.

People have fought tyranny in Iran for years from government to the next and the struggle goes on.

Minoo / December 8, 2009 12:16 AM

My father was classmates with these three students in the FOE. He himself was an Army officer school student who was imprisoned and expelled from university for his activities. He vividly remembers the murder of his friend, the martyred hero Mr. Bozorgnia, a mere few feet away from him.... Light and Glory to their memories....

Anonymous RS / December 8, 2009 12:38 AM

With all due respect to the enraged mornarchists:

Your screams of indignation are simply smoke-screen for a deeper issue, about which you have nothing sensible to say.

I acknowledged Reza Shah's contributions to Iran's ECONOMIC modernization which I consider as significant. But, there are issues that you do not address in your comments and, instead, resort to screaming about issues that have nothing to do with the subject of the article. The article is about what led to 16 Azar events, not what the Shah did or did not afterwards:

1. The root cause of what happened on 16 Azar is the CIA/MI6 coup of 1953, that overthrew Dr. Mosaddegh, Iran's and Third World's hero. Now, you can revise the history and like RWL write a new one and live in your fatansies, but the rest of Iran and the world do not see it that way. That is why you react with anger.

2. You simply want Iran and Iranians forget such crimes, but when I and people like me write about the IRI crimes in this very same website, you cheer them on! In fact, that is why you come to this site.

3. You cannot claim that Reza Shah helped the POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT of Iran, because he did not. He set it back by at least two decades, after the great Constitutional Revolution. No economic development is sustainable and lasting unless it is first preceded by political development. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT MEANS MEANINGFUL ELECTIONS, FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, etc.

4. We cannot commemorate the 18 Teer events of 1378 without doing the same for 16 Azar. Both are important. Both are the result of dictatorship, not just one of them!

5. The root cause of the 1979 revolution is the coup of 1953. Without the 1953 coup and the political repression and oppression that followed, there would have never been the 1979 Revolution. Say what you wish, but you cannot change the history.

Finally, just because someone is opposed to monarchy does not mean that that person is pro-IRI. You monarchists are incapable of understanding this elemntary principle.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 8, 2009 4:29 AM

Judging from this article and the one written by Mr. Sahimi on 9/25 (comparing the visits of Ahmadinejad and the Shah abroad), it seems that Mr. Sahimi is just another one of the remaining confused leftists of that era.

Their 'glorious' revolution turned out to be a failure, yet they still do not have the courage to say the simple words: we were wrong! Instead he continues the slander of the Pahlavi family, which is responsible not only for bringing our country out of the dark ages as others have mentioned, but for maintaining the country of IRAN as we see it on the map today. Or else Iran would today be four of five separate countries.

Shame on you Mr. Sahimi, one day you will have to explain to your grandchildren what your generation did to Iran.

Iranian in America / December 8, 2009 4:49 AM

Minoo, I am afraid you are the one sounding ridiculous. Where do these kids claim a supreme leader has to rule over them? Sahimi is not telling the truth.Can you or sahimi claim you have had no faults in your life time? Are American presidents free of faults? If you are to judge someone, at least have the common curtisy to judge the person's accomplishments as well as their faults.These kids, unlike you two have the foresight to differentiate and judge fairly.Sahimi and you may not have realized yet that people can think. They can see the lack of accomplishment of the so called intellectuals in the last 30 years vs. what the nation had achieved under Pahlavis. However, that is beside the point. Who said monarchies can not be democratic and be governed by the rule of law? Some of the most advanced countries and societies in the world are prime axamples of such systems of governance.Who said Republics are all democratic? Does the Islamic Republic ring a bell to you? You are entitled to your opinion, but you have no right to belittle others for having a different opinion than you.Those who you admire have done nothing for Iran in terms of progress.You people have nothing to show for except misery.The least you people can do is to tell the truth to the younger generation.Tell it the way it is.Tell the whole story and tell the truth. RWL, thank you for some very valid points.

Parvenh / December 8, 2009 5:08 AM

Mr. Sahimi, if you do acknowledge Reza Shah and his accomplishments, why did you not mention it in your artcle and resorted to a cheap comment about him?
Isn't it ironic that you always speak on behalf of the Iranian people? Don't you have enough confidence in yourself sir?
May I bring to you attention that in the history of mankind, democracy and political development or lack of has never been the achievement or the failure of a single person but society as a whole.
I am truly sorry if I sound a little cold, but it seems to me your thoughts are frozen in time sir. Please leave 1953 and try to focus on 2009. What do you offer to your people at this deparate times beside questionable nostalgia? You need to grow up sir.
Finally, I had no idea this site was closed to supporters of Monarchy. What is the matter sir? Does the exercise of democracy or witnessing one's ability to reason bother you?
We are here to stay and we have every right to be heard and you will hear from us when you and the likes stray from historical reality.

Parang / December 8, 2009 6:09 AM


Stick to the subject of the article. You are enraged because I have explained what the roots of this historical day is, accurately and factually.

Do you believe that the subject of the article, namely, the murder of three innocent young students demonstrating against the coup and the Pahlavi dictatorship was a fiction or was true? THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE ARTICLE.

You cannot respond to it, because you have nothing to say. That is why you have changed the subject. How can you support what happened today in Iran, and what happened on 18 Teer 1378 (1999), but change the subject when it comes to the crime of 16 Azar, which was also a demonstration against dictatorship? One crime is good, one is bad?

One great achievement of the 1979 Revolution was to terminate for good the illegitimate coup government of the Shah, and all forms of monarchies.

You also do not know what you are talking about, when you say monarchies can be democracy. Those countries in which monarchies are democracy went through two hundreds years of evolution in order to become democracy A CENTURY AGO. The last time I looked, the last year the Shah was in power, the fascist party of Rastakhiz was ruling Iran, just as religious fascists are ruling Iran now.

The last time I looked, Shah said, "if you do not like Rastakhiz, get your passport and go," just as Mesbah Yazdi said, "if you do not like IRI, get your passport and go."

One terrible regime does not justify another terrible, foreign-sponsored government, the Shah's!

Iranian in America:

You come to this site all the time, and read my articles and those of others that criticize all the crimes that are happening in Iran now. You feel satisfied and happy!!

But, as soon as I criticize the Pahlavis for historicaldocumented, irrefutable facts, you begin screaming?

At least I write under my full name. How about you sir/madam? Hiding behind a pseudonym and issuing secular fatwas!!

The problem with all you monarchies is that you want to sweep all the Shah's crimes under the rug. You are enraged because I have explained factually why 16 Azar, which you want to be used to demonstrate against the IRI - and indeed it was - was created by the Shah's crime. You want 16 Azar, but you do not want people to know when and where it came from!!

Muhammad Sahimi / December 8, 2009 7:43 AM

Dear "Iranian in America",

so you are saying that the killings of these students were legitimate?
What has your comment to do with the issue? Just because the IR is even worse than the shah, it doesn't make the shah good. He was the reason of the revolution and it was him that gave Khomeini the opportunity for power by eliminating all secular opposition!

I find the mornarchists worship of the Pahlavis or the MKO members worship of the Rajavis quit disturbing.

Heidar / December 8, 2009 4:03 PM



Minoo / December 8, 2009 5:49 PM

The idea forwarded by monarchists -- that the truly macabre experience of the Islamic Republic retroactively justifies the 'enlightened despotism' of the Shah -- fails to convince this reader.

Judged by the standards of our monarchists, then Stalin, who turned hopelessly backward Russia into a modern industrial and scientific powerhouse within a generation, should qualify as more of a superhero than Reza Shah.

The problem is that despotism, whether of the US-backed absolute monarchical kind, the Bolshevist type, or of the homegrown demagogic religious variety, is by nature 'unenlightened', and cannot lead to sustainable development, materially or culturally.

This is because the most scientifically and artistically gifted persons, those who are fired with creativity and energy, and form kernels for the sustainable advance of a nation, are non-conformist and contrarian by nature. Such people are -- sooner or later -- alienated and driven off by a state that adheres to any sort of exclusivist and authoritarian ideology.

Conversely, the type of people who thrive in such toxic environments are dim-witted true believers or cynical opportunists, which fritter away whatever initial benefits the dictatorship has garnered for the country.

For those with a nostalgic view of the Pahlavi regime, but whose minds remain open to nuance, I would recommend Marvin Zonis' fascinating study, 'The Political Elite of Iran', published by Princeton University Press in 1971.

Hopefully, our young intelligensia will study recent history dispassionately, with a view to extracting patterns and discovering lessons from all the errors and achievements of the past century, not use the mistakes and crimes of one repressive regime to lionize another absolutist political system.

Otherwise, our country will never emerge into political maturity, the pure blood of Neda and Sohrab will go to waste, and Shaaban Jaafari's sinister legacy will be passed on to future generations.

Ali from Tehran / December 8, 2009 6:38 PM

Aleast now the whole world knows what kind of characters are running this site. I always thought communists and communism was a thing of the past. Mr. sahimi writes the artice and his one fan Minoo justifies it. There is one particular characteristic that stands out about these two individuals, their lack of respect for an individual's right to freedom of thought.

Cindy Klein / December 8, 2009 7:39 PM


Stick to the subject. The subject is: Why did the 16 Azar events in 1953 happen? That is the subject.

Monarchists such as you want to use 16 Azar to demonstrate against the IRI - which is great; we all support that - but do not want people know the root of 16 Azar itself!! That is what has enraged the monarchists.

I acknowledged Reza Shah's contributions to ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, NOT political development. He set back Iran's political development after the great Constitutional Revolution. His era was an absolute dark dictatorship. This is documented history, and I did not strayed from it. Stating decumented history is not cheap shots.

Monarchists should express their thoughts. I am not opposed to it. But, I and people like me also have every right to counter fabrication of history by the monarchists.

Although most authors do not even respond, I do not back down.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 8, 2009 7:45 PM

I lived during the Pahlavi area. It was very stable but politically repressed. We were always afraid of the Savak. As a result, we did not discuss our political views openly. We had to memorize the Shah's white revolution in high school and take tests for something that we did not believed in: We had relatives in the villages who were impacted by the white revolution. It was not delivering what it claimed.

All said, I still can't understand why Iran's intellectuals were deceived by Khomeini.At the outset of revolution, my parents who were not particularly pro Shah, knew the mullahs should not ever be trusted and that they will ruin Iran.

But I think the mistake had to be made. Iranians will never be deceived by the corrupt mullahs again. Never again. I am assuming this is a lesson worth learning in order to grow politically and to free Iran from any oppressive regime. Monarchy or Mullah-archy. It seems to me that monarchists are easily satisfied with anything stable regardless of its grave faults. In general, I find them super conservative and not dynamic in their political view points. I hope they are a minority.

parvaneh / December 8, 2009 9:09 PM


First of all, many people read Mr. Sahimi's articles and respect his writings or like some of his articles. Go and look at the other comments from his other articles. Second of all, learning from someone's writing or sharing some of his or her views, does not make me a fan or anything else. Thirdly, this site among other sites that write about Iran events is one of the best I have found since June 12th. This talk about communism is idiotic to say the least. Communism is dead however I don't it is dead in your thoughts.

Minoo / December 8, 2009 9:58 PM

Mr. Sahimi, You are free to spread your leftist revision of history, and I would not care one bit if it was your own blog. However, the fact that this site is now a member of the respected 'Frontline' brand is what is scary. None of your articles would make it through a decent fact-checking and would not be published in any other reputable news source. However, it seems like Frontline has become so enamored with the Green Movement that they have not bothered to insist on some sort of objectivity or journalistic standards. All I see on this site is the leftist version of everything that happens, has happened, or will happen in Iran. I would not expect any more from a sad person like Mr. Sahimi, but I do hold Frontline to a higher standard.

Iranian in America / December 9, 2009 1:14 AM

As a 10 year old in 1979 I remember my father taking my brother and I to a SAVAK torture house somewhere in Tehran just a few days after the Shah's government had been toppled. I can still remember vividly the windows that had been bricked up from the inside, the hooks on the ceiling and the bloody metal table. I was in the presence of evil and to me there was no defending the Pahlavis after that. I am not as smart as most of the people who post comments on this site but I think that the beauty of it is that we do not have to settle for puppet kings or the current sub-humans who are in charge of our country. Lets not argue about the past and our flawed leaders but lets for the sake of those brave young people in Iran focus on the future. Most of them after all were not around for the Shah or even Khomeini for that matter.

Persepolis / December 9, 2009 1:53 AM

Mr. Ali, I respect your views and I appreciate your response. May Mr. Sahimi benefit from your wisdom. Ali jan, Monarchy ended in 1979 and to deny it would not be viewed as an intelligent practice. By the same token, to assume Iran could have emerged as a democratic nation immediately after the fall of Ghajar dynasty is idiotic. Reza Shah inherited a primitive 4th rate country devoid of the most basic fundamentals let alone a democratic society. To down play the immense achievements of an era, to pretend all failures and short falls as product of foreign conspiracy is the style of a group of under achievers who have lead our country to its present disastrous standing. Is it not about time we focus on the future of our country and as concerned citizens shed light on a path to recovery rather than the same old same old fossilized stories of the past? This is a complete lack of one's intellectual ability to move forward. An example of the very same phony intellectuals we have experienced in the post revolutionary years. The man posts an article, a couple of ill informed fans as Ms. Klein quite rightly suggested cheer him on, set the stage and the saga continues. I have always wondered about these ex-communists. What are they doing in the United States? You see them all over Los Angeles. Did they not claim the mother Russia was their heaven on earth? Duplicity and nothing else.

Parang / December 9, 2009 2:00 AM

Iranian in America:

Talking in generic terms is easy, and cheap. Making baseless accusations is even cheaper.

The article is about the historical events that led to the 16 Azar event, nothing less, nothing more. But, you keep creating a fog and changing the subject.

1. Assuming that I am a leftist, I do not have the right to express my views? That is certainly what you are saying! Is it not?

Write your own article and express your rightist views, and write under your full name. There are also some monarchist websites where you can read what you like to read. I am not saying you should not read TB. Of course, you should.

2. What do you know about Frontline that makes you think that my "leftist" views damage it? Who says that Frontline is rightist, or even centrist? Who are you to feel bad about Frontline?

3. Which facts do you dispute in my article, that you think need a "decent fact checking?" I asked you to do it, but you refused. So, let me list them for you and you respond if you wish:

(a) That the reign of Reza Shah represented a dictatorship? I acknowledged that he did make major contributions to modernizing Iran. But, he was also a dictator. Do you dispute that? This is a yes or no question/answer.

(b) That the 1953 coup was a CIA/MI6 coup? The US and Britain have acknowledged it. Madeleine Albright essentially apologized for it. You dispute that? This is like "Shah mibakhsheh vali Shahgholi khan nemibakhsheh!" Again, yes or no?

(c) That the three students were killed by the Shah's security forces? Even the Shah's government acknowledged it. Do you dispute it? Agan, the answer is simply yes or no!

These are the three major facts. Explain clearly which one you dispute. Do not give me lecture about what the Shah and his father did or did not do. The article is not about that.

The article is about, and only about, what gave rise to 16 Azar as a historical event.

Few people, if any, have written more in support of the democratic movement in Iran over the past many years, and particularly over the past many months, than I have. When I criticize the IRI, everybody likes it, but the IRI supporters. When I criticize the Shah, everyone likes it but the monarchists.

You simply need a bit of courage to admit the following: You want people to demonstrate against the IRI on 16 Azar, but you do not want people to know where 16 Azar came from.

You believe that criticizing the Shah is tantamount to be an IRI supporter. That is not so, regardless of how hard you try.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 9, 2009 3:37 AM

The honorable author seems to still be "andar khame yek kooche."

Political freedom, specially for a backward country like iran, was the least important - that does not bring food on the table, neither does it stop the country from disintegration nor bring progress.

Bad mouthing Reza Shah with all his achievements simply because he did not allow political freedom, which islamists sought to destroy him and iran (as they did in 1979) is ultimate naivety and lack of ability to learn from the experiences of the past 30 years. Where were these freedom seekers during 200+ years of Qajar that they suddenly popped up in 16 years when reza shah wanted to bring iran out of dark ages?

Reza shah was a man, not a god. And according to islamists and pseudo intellectuals, there have only been 2 gods in long history of iran, mosaddeq and khomeini; the first god was stopped from ruining iran by son of reza shah but the second god managed to destroy iran and give you the political freedom that you were seeking, albeit in evin and beheshte zahra. What would you be saying today if khomeini was eliminated in 1979? You would be praising him godly like mosaddeq, but the country would be a country with people peacefully living there instead of marching in the streets seeking what they had for free during Pahlavis and placing their hopes on criminals like Mousavi and Karrubi, Ganji and Sazgara, and alike, all with blood on their hands.

Make a trip to iran to see ALL that is there as signs of a modern society are what Pahalvis did even today 30 years later. We have seen what absence of Pahlavis did to iran before them during Qajar and after them during Mullas. The argument lacks an ounce of credibility because empirical evidence shows that as bad as pahlavis may have been, their absence was suicidal for iran and iranians and placed iran at least 50 years behind where it was in 1979.

Abtin / December 9, 2009 5:52 AM

@ Peyman, Iman, Firoozeh, Babak, Lida.... and other monarchist,

This is what MKO, Monarchists and Bassij have in common: 1. They still practice personality based politics. They LOOOOVE their leader who can do NOOOOO wrong! They are often enraged by the slightest criticism of their beloved personality 2. they have selective memory of events.

Interestingly, they realy hate eachothers' guts.

The fact that Khomeini/khamanei made the Shah look good, is beside the point. I am sure Ghinghis Khan made Alexander look good too. But The idea that brave young Iranians are getting killed, beaten and jailed for some oldtimer Generals or another Pahlavi who have lived in their Malibu mansions for 30 yrs is dilusional.

Furthermore, your reactionary statements and name calling from one sentence of Dr. Sahimi about RezaShah is a great demonstration of why the Pahlavis were partly responsible for setting the stage for Khomeini to fill the void.

@Dr. Sahimi,

I dont know if you are "leftist", or whatever, (Everyone is a leftist if you are extreme right) . But I always enjoy reading your articles. Please keep up the good work, and do not get sidetracked by all the haters.

keivan / December 9, 2009 7:06 AM

@ Abtin

re your statement " specially for a backward country like iran"
Thank you for calling our country with 3000 year history "backwards"!!! I would expect that from a redneck hillbilly. not from you. pre-modern yes. underdeveloped. yes .but "backwards"????

Re your argument
"We have seen what absence of Pahlavis did to iran before them during Qajar and after them during Mullas."
i dont see how the absence of pahlavis lead to Ghajaris. Did their absence also lead to the Mongul invasion? I can see how the presence of pahlavis lead to Khomeini though.

RE your statement
"ALL that is there as signs of a modern society are what Pahalvis did even today 30 years later."
ALL!! Not true. Mullahs built for e.g. tehran metro System. they are about to develope technology to split atom and send satellites into space. Doesn't make them saints now does it. Modernization is not the same as democrocy. Just ask Hitler.

Keivan / December 9, 2009 7:53 AM

Mr. Sahimi, I am not sure if you are aware of this or not, but Frontline is distributed by PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). PBS is a government-funded entity. And because of this, it must take an unbiased, objective approach to every subject. Unlike the government run stations in Iran or your first love, the former Soviet Union, PBS is required by law to maintain the strictest standards in fair reporting and journalism. That is why I object to your leftist revisionism. You sir are no Bill Moyers or other respected journalism with years of award-winning reporting under your record to justify being given such an open forum to spread your version of history.

Now I will try to answer your questions as best as I can:

a) Clearly, by the standards we hold today, the reign of Reza Shah would be considered a dictatorship. However, everything must be considered in its context. For example, by your simple 'yes or no' litmus test in judging who is a dictator, the founding fathers of the United States would be dictators. After all, they only allowed a select elite the right to vote (women, minorities and non-landing own males could not vote). They even had slaves! But today, it is universally recognized that they were years ahead of their time and were responsible for the advancement of their country. Just like Reza Shah was for Iran.

b) What happened in 1953 was encouraged by the CIA/MI6, however at the end of the day it was the Shah's military (and interestingly the clergy) who kicked Mossadeq out. Mossadeq himself was no shining example of democracy, he even claimed to have won an election with 99% of the vote! For goodness sake, Khomeini only claimed 98% of Iranians supported the creation of the Islamic Republic. Of course this event is very complex and can not be summarized in a short response.

c) Sadly, those three students were killed back in 1953. It is a real shame that any students had to be killed at that time.

Finally, I would point the readers of this site to read your 9/25 about the Confederation of Iranian Students to see some examples of your unsourced writing. My favorite example of your hack journalism:

"This coupled with the fact that the CISUN was not controlled by any foreign government (which was even acknowledged by the Shah) and financed solely by contributions and dues from its members and supporters, gave the organization solid credibility"

Please PBS, fact-check these articles!

Iranian in America / December 9, 2009 7:57 AM

Its funny to see so many monarchists in here commenting, and all of them fails to discuss the subject of this article!!!
What is your views on 16 azar? When you guys say "lets not focus on the past but the future", does this mean that its wrong protesting 16 azar?

I can see that all the monarchists in here are accusing anybody not agreeing with their views, of being either a mullah or a communist. I thought only the regime had such a trivial way of thinking.

Ali from Tehran: Spot on, loved your comment!

Heidar / December 9, 2009 8:16 AM

@Ali from Tehran

Dear Ali,
It is refreshing to read your thoughtful and intelligent comments. It represents a new level of political maturity that our friends and students in Iran have reached. I have no doubt Spring is near in Iran. Stay safe my friend.

Keivan / December 9, 2009 8:25 AM

Dear Parang,

I don't think you understood my post.

Many of Mr. Sahimi's detractors on this comments page, including you, argue that Iran's people were too backward to deserve, or even want, freedom and inclusive politics in the 20s and 50s.

It is fortunate that the elite of India's independence movement in the 1940s did not take a similarly dim view of their own impoverished and illiterate masses.

This type of elitism, in which a precious few, whether turbaned clerics or pro-Western compradors of the Shah's ilk, give themselves the right to determine whether the benighted majority are 'ready' for democracy and human rights or not, is dangerous.

I enjoy Mr. Sahimi's posts on this website and always learn from them.

Ali from Tehran / December 9, 2009 2:31 PM

Iranian in America:

We all need a good hearty laugh to begin our day. When I read your comment about the Soviet Union being my favorite country, I got my laugh which was deep and long. Thank you.

Yes, PBS should subscribe to your alternative history of the CIA/MI6 coup! Yes, PBS should re-interpret the history and call Reza Shah's reign a democracy just to satisfy you!

And, most importantly, PBS should announced that the three students "HAD TO BE KILLED," as you put it! Well, if that is acceptable, then why can the IRI not make the same claim: THESE PEOPLE HAVE TO BE KILLED?

And regarding the Confederation of Iranian Students: This is again a case of "Shah mibakhsheh vali Shahgholi Khan nemibakhsheh!" The Shah himself never made your outlandish claim! And, you cannot cite one credible source to back your claim up. Just one!

But, of course, in your parallel universe, which is totally disconnected from ours, any crime is justifiable in order to glorify a corrupt dynasty, which was totally and completely responsible for the 1979 Revolution.

I have said this many times and I repeat again:

Without the anti-Iran, foreign-sponsored coup of 1953 there would not have been the 1979 Revolution.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 9, 2009 6:49 PM

Don't worry guys.His buddies came to his rescue."Oh Mr. Sahimi we love you. God forbid, did some people have the courage to question you?"
and should you question, you are marked ignorant. The fact of the matter is even though the protests were about 16 of Azar, no one even cared about Mossadegh. Look at the pictures and videos and banners. These old commies have no choice but to dig out Mossadegh's bones everytime they need to make a stand or they would have no leg to stand on. 30 years of total failure in all aspects of politics and economics. The kids in Iran are shouting,"Death to the dictator","Death to Islamic Republic" and the regime's lobby in the United States translates that to "Mossadegh vs. Pahlavi". Even Mossadegh himself did not have so much supposed problems with Pahlavis. Once again, what have you people done for Iran in the last 30 years? I am no one's ilk Mr.. As a friend put it gracefully, WE CAN THINK.

Fred from Naeen / December 9, 2009 6:53 PM

Dear Keivan,
Your arguments do not stand with reality. Yes, Iran of 1925 was a backward country if you care to get to know how people thought and lived then. Suffice it to say that when reza shah took over a disintegrating country (with Mazanderan under Bolsheviks, Azabayejan revolting to separate, Khuzestan declared independent under Sheikh Khazal) and with 3% literacy rate. Did you know that reza shah wanted to establish a republic but powerful mullas did not allow him to do that? Did you know that mullas declared anyone who learned French in 1925 committing a "haram" act? We gain nothing by empty pumping up of our far past which were due to achievements of other iranians not those of the last 200 years. "Man aanam keh rostam jahan ra gereft" will not help us. If you know history of pahlavis, you should at least know that without reza shah there would not be iran as we know today that we talk about, nor existed any dr. sahimi who was trained in the university of tehran that reza shah established and mullas planned to shut it down for 20 years (did you know that?).

As for your second paragraph, my point was that iran was a sleepy place for at least 200 years and immature even in 1979 (or else would not have marched behind a 7th century mulla) and nobody said anything, but as soon as Pahlavis tried to make changes, we saw opposition, assassinations, coups, one after the other, and for what, to bring us where we are. We cannot live in la-la land as dr. sahimi does, without offering an alternative that would work with the likes of monsters (200,000 mullas to name a few) that we came to know that we had amongst us.

As for achievements that you attribute to islamic republic, I am puzzled how you do not know the history of the examples that you brought up. Tehran Metro and highways were planned before 1979 and IRI placed them on hold for a long time before allowing them to move forward; it would have finished much earlier if shah was still in charge. Splitting atom! Are you kidding me? Did you know that the only operational reactor today (Tehran Research Reactor) was built and went operational during M.R. Shah's time? (and yes it split atom to operate). Bushehr under contract was planned to become operational in 1981 under shah's regime. Well we know about that today, don't we? And there was a contract signed in 1975 to establish high-speed train lines connecting cities around the country in 10 years; well mullas cancelled that and that is why we are still using 25 year old planes that Shah's regime bought. Yes, anything significant that you see today has roots in pahlavis regime; mullas did not bring us anything but destruction and looting.

Finally you are also wrong about Hitler! He came to power democratically by popular vote; and so did Khomeini. Both peoples (Germans and Iranians) were wrong. History has proved that.

And thank you for calling me Monarchist! It is truly an honor since we have been vindicated in the last 30 years, to be pro a regime that not only had guaranteed integrity of iran for 2500 years, but offered iranians their best days of the last 300 years. Disagree? Ask so many iranians within iran who long for Pahlavis period and 150,000 of them (according to UN) who escape iran for another country each year.

Abtin / December 9, 2009 7:07 PM

@ Iranian in America

A) Your comparison of the Americal founding fathers is a great example of why you build democrocy first and human evolution and modernity follows, not the other way around.

300 yrs ago at time of slavery and when most Americans were illiterate and impoverished, the Founding Fathers wrote a timeless constitution based on human rights and freedom for all that is used even today. Of course, freedom for all did not materialize right away, but it created an atmosphere where great human potential was released. It eventually lead to abolished slavery, women's right, modernity etc. Lucky for America, George Washington, Adams et all, were enlightened individuals, and patriots not despotic authoritarians. In fact some people had asked Washington to be King after US independance, and he refused

The point is a dictator strongman like Reza shah (and a much weaker, meaker son- as often children of strong authoritative men are) can somewhat modernize (mostly by importing technology, not developing it) but will not evolve properly.

And personality-based thinking, religious (Jesus, Muhammad, Moses) or political ( Shah, Khomeini, Rajavi) blinds us and sets the stage for hypocrocy and dictatorship. One can be principle-based-and that is timeless.

Ali from Tehran has given two fantastic examples: post-independence India vs Stalin. You gave us a third great example, The US founding fathers.

B) What happened in 1953 was a Coup. By definition Coup is by the country's own military. In this case with support of CIA/MI6 greedy for oil fields of Iran. That is a fact admitted by US and British.

C) It is a shame those students were killed. All they wanted was freedom for their country. I thank Dr. Sahimi for helping to keep their memories alive.

Keivan / December 9, 2009 7:39 PM

Dear Abtin,

I couldn't agree with you more re Mullahs. They have been a cancer in Iran for hundreds of years. Not only were they against Mosadegh, they were also against constitutionalist (Sheikh fazlolah)and any meaningful change in Iran. They always dreamed of Sharia law and found every democrocy movement in Iran incompatible with it.

Re my second statement, the point isn't who build what when. The point you miss is this: Modernity is not the same as democrocy. You dont modernize first and democrotise later. It is the other way around as was the case in India, US, etc.

RE: Hitler, yes he was elected by people as was Khomeini, but democratic? I am sure you have heard of Kristalnacht? Gestapo?
Again the point was modernity. Ali from tehran gave us a better example, Stalin. He sure modernised Russia and beat back the germans. Huge accomplishments. does that make him a hero? of course not.

I find our students in Iran have learned this lesson very well. while you and I are bickeing , they are fighting for timeless principles of freedom, equality and human rights rather than a person, dynasty, etc.
I hope we can at least agree on that.

Keivab / December 9, 2009 8:21 PM

Keivab, We all have valid points. Who is to deny mistakes were not made in the past, but there has to be balance and fairness. To say that the Pahlavi era represented dark ages is far removed from the truth and simply idiotic. Also, looking at it from the other side the Iranian society should have been given the opportunity to participate in the decision making process and learn the A,B & Cs of politics, if you will. However, what most people resent is the continuous attempt on the part of these communists and supporters of Jebehieh Melli to hide the accomplishments of the Iranian people during the era of Pahlavi through a vicious focus on only the negative. It is always Mossadegh vs. Pahlavi as if there are no other concerns left in this world of ours. India and U.S. were blessed with accomplished individuals who guided their population to prosperity. Unfortunately ours resemble a broken record stock on Mossadegh vs. Pahlavi track for the last three decades. It is embarrassing to see after 30 years these individuals have nothing new to offer to our people. It is the right of all Iranians to choose their destiny based on politics of their choice. Iranians reserve the right to decide on a democratic Republic or a Parliamentary Monarchy as their elected system of government. It is quite clear both systems can be very democratic or dictatorial based on the country’s political foundation. Let us work hand in hand to end tyranny in our country. We must defeat the Barbaric Republic prior to the establishment of democracy and rule of law in Iran.

Parang / December 9, 2009 11:19 PM

As far as the facts presented,I found nothing wrong with the article. The debate about the respective faults of the IRI versus the Shah is a little artificial. Monarchy is unlikely to ever make a comeback in Iran. As to whether there is a direct line from 1953 to 1979 to the present day. Most definitely.Revolving around the issue of legitimacy. The regime created by the coup could never have the legitimacy that Mossedegh had. Likewise, Khomenei lost all legitimacy as soon as he began wiping out his co-revolutionaries and his successor has even less. Some may find the 'left' distasteful or even dangerous but the reality is most countries have workers of all kinds without which the state wouldn't function or exist. One gets the impression that under the Shah they were pesky miscreants and that in the IRI everything gets done with wave of a mullahs magic wand. Houses spring up, food gets grown and toilets get cleaned by people we never hear from or about.This huge block was never represented in the Shahs time and is even less so now

Pirooz / December 10, 2009 2:50 PM

" This huge block was never represented in the Shahs time ". Did you live in that era or did you get you info. from these communists? The working class in Iran had ample opportunities and made good money and benefits by the standards of Middle East. Iranian revolution was never about income/money but based on an illusion of god knows what and Khomeini's lies.Most of Iranians that participated in the idiocy of 1979 don't even know why they did it. They sure got nothing out of it." Monarchy is unlikely to ever make a comeback in Iran ". That is your opinion. Many believe the chances are as good as any based on past achievements.If there is one system committed to the garbage of history by all nations concerned, it is communism. During the 70s Iranian economy was booming and we had to bring in workers from other countries to fill the vacuum. Please don't tell me Iranians were pesky miscreants. You have no idea what you are talking about. Get to know your country and your people.

Azarm / December 11, 2009 12:16 AM

I did live in that era but i get my information from Wikipedia.They have a good section on the hidden massacre of 1963 when the estimate of those killed tops 20.000. The seventies were a once in a century windfall during the oil-crisis yet still there was widespread poverty. Communism is dead, thankfully but we still have people who do the hard work, the real work, they haven't dissappeared nor will they. they should have a voice and respect.

Pirooz / December 11, 2009 10:41 AM

Pirooz, you say you did live in the era but you get your info from Wikipedia. Didn't you have your eyes open? Couldn't you see? I back Azarm 100%. The so called revolution was a true idiocy. Look at us today. What a great shame.

Mazda / December 11, 2009 6:42 PM

Pirooz, Sorry that I jump in, but that was the problem with the revolution; it was 98% based on lies and deceit, and the result is where we are today. Wiki is simply wrong. The best estimate of killings (in street fights as well as executions, etc.) during the Shah's entire period (from 1963 to 1979 prior to revolution) totals to 383 according to an IRI insider, Emaddeddin Baghi, who was in charge of finding evidence of 600,000 that khomeini claimed shah had killed. Google him or see his web site.

Khomeini on the other hand killed a similar number of people in a single day in Evin according to many eye-witnesses, including Montazeri and Khomeini himself. There is a piece of YouTube film from Khomeini in which he tries to justify an order of his to kill 700. There are names of close to 10,000 that khomeini killed in Boroumands' site, all based on regime's newspapers. Total killings of iranians by IRI is estimated in tens of thousands in 30 years.

Shah was flawed, but islamic republic has turned him into a comparatively flawless angel. The only reason that he is still so hated by islamists/leftists is that those who staged the revolution (islamists, leftists, bogus-intellectuals) could not give iranians a single day of prosperity that shah (despite his flaws) provided during his 38 years rule; neither could they be any less atrocious than the shah in a single day of the last 30 years. Unfortunately shah provides a yardstick that none of the revolutionaries could compete with; so the only way that they can justify their misjudgment and incompetence is to continue to beat the dead horse and demonize the Shah far beyond what he really was; that is the only way that they hope to evade their taking responsibility for what has happened in the last 30 years, and respond to their treasonous mistakes of 1979.

In the class of history of last 60 years, there is the Shah with an imperfect grade of A- and revolutionaries of various flavors with grades of F, where likes of the honorable dr. sahimi still blame the A- Shah, not only for his inability to achieving a perfect grade of A, but also for his lack of educating the congenitally atrophic F-grade revolutionaries. Hatred of the shah is based on jealousy of his unbeatable successes and revolutionaries' despair to justify the treasonous revolution of 1979 more than anything else.

Abtin / December 11, 2009 8:56 PM

This is the root cause of the treasonous revolution of 1979.


Iran's resources have been looted for the last 30 years.Ask yourselves why is it despite all your struggles, no country in the west has taken a stance for freedom in your support? Simple, the contracts with the Barbaric Republic are toooo good.What happened to the human rights the late Shah was so much criticized for despite all the lies and exaggerations? Wake up Iran. You have been had.

Anonymous / December 13, 2009 12:52 AM

Abtin, I am guessing you are quite young.I don't hate the Shah but I have personal, family knowledge that makes it impossible for me to view his reign in the light you portray it.You say he was flawed. Hmm. Alright. At best I could say he was no worse than Augusto Pinochet, the Argentine Junta or Somoza. All of which I have researched a great deal. Irans ordeals can be best understood by studying the Terror of the thirties in Russia, the situation in Burma. Europeans used to say that cruelty and authoritarianism were ingrained Russian characteristics that were a Mongol inheritance. Some Russians even held that idea. Its false. Man is pretty much the same everywhere it is only political systems that vary. A single unaccountable ruler is not a system for the 21st century and inevitably leads to misfortune. You can never study history too much. Stalin according to Putin made Russia a great power but I have to agree with Pasternak who said quite simply he was a murderer. Pinochet saved Chile from communism - simply a murderer. The Shah was an A- and Khamenei an F. Sorry they are both simply ...

Pirooz / December 13, 2009 2:05 PM

Pirooz, I am calling you a liar.Don't give me Stalin and Pinochet to justify for your lack of knowledge.You are trying to divert people's attention away from reality.Abtin is absolutely right about the number of people during the entire era of Pahlavi's regime.If you bother to pick up a book or do a little research you will find out that amongst those people mentioned a great number were not even political and were tried for other reasons.The Shah even forgave those who conspired to assassinate him.Where do you people draw the line? We will no longer fall for your lies and exaggerations.Khamenei and his backward regime of murderers and rapists get F- and sooner than later will be tried before the world.

Mazda / December 14, 2009 12:34 AM

Pirooz, first you say your reference is Wiki, an amateurish site, then you say you are a student of history and as evidence you line up shah alongside Stalin and Pinochet, each with blood of millions on their hands (not 383 of which far fewer actually executed for political reasons). I do not know how to interpret your intentions. Shah even offered the democracy that people were seeking by essentially abdicating the run of the country to Bakhtiar. It did not work; do you know why? Because ALL leaders of the revolution were lying; their claims were excuses and their arms the religiosity of people to grab power and wealth. If there was an ounce of truth to revolutionaries claims of shah being such and such, they would have tuned against khomeini a week after revolution when they saw him indiscriminately murdering people, including likes of Dr. Parsa, who had done absolutely nothing wrong in her entire life.

Do you know Mousavi who is cheered for has blood of thousands on his hand but people out of desperation are lining up behind him hoping that he (a committed follower of the Criminal Khomeini whose appointed minister of intelligence and minister of justice sent thousands to gallows while he was PM) would maybe give people a fraction of prosperity and freedom that shah provided them for free. Mousavi is neither a lesser dictator (he endorses Vali-Faghih all the time, i.e., theocracy) than the shah nor has a better past record.

If you reject the shah, fine; but you must offer a 'practical' better alternative. That alternative may not exist for a long long time considering the monsters that are ruling in iran, and the gullible people that are following them. Those monsters and their followers will not step aside except by force, at least by the same force that shah was placing them under. Suffice it to say that those in Shah's prisons were mostly likes of Khamenei and Rafsanjani, who well deserved to be in jail after all.

You see, your hatred of the Shah is emotional rather than objective and you throw in exaggerations to justify, not knowing that the history has already proved otherwise. I have no problem with criticizing the Shah, but exaggerating his misdeeds, ignoring his deeds, and ignoring realities of a large portion of people of iran (blindly religious, ignorant, gullible, illiterate, opportunist) brings us exactly where we are today; so you are endorsing the islamic republic while running away it personally.

Abtin / December 14, 2009 3:05 AM

I lived under Shah and like Dr. Sahimi went to Daneshkadeh Fani in teh 70's. So I know what kind of fear we lived through, especially every time Guard-e-Daneshgah decide it needed to beat the hell out of young students. Shah, especially in the last years of his reign was bad (he did call himself Khodaigan, or god like, BTW, not unlike Khomeini), motly beacuse he believed in his own BS. No question that Islamic Republic is worse by many orders of magniture, but perhaps if Shah had not killed, exiled, or imprisioned all potential leaders, we wouldn't have ended up with Khomeini and islamic Republic. History is not a bunch of disjointed events. Everything is connected. 16 of Azar is important, beacuse it symbolizes standing for freedom and Justice, and aginst tyranny and colonialism. not because of Mosadegh or any other partcular person.
Thank you Dr. Sahimi for writing about it.

Mohandess / February 12, 2010 7:33 PM