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Ashura 101

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

24 Dec 2009 23:4261 Comments
1_8710180330_L600.jpg[ overview ] December 18 marked the beginning of the month of Moharram. Shiites, and in particular Iranians, have been mourning the killing of their third Imam, Hossein, the quintessential martyr, since his death in the battle of Karbala on October 10, 680, which falls on Ashura, the 10th day of Moharram. Ashura has been commemorated for at least a thousand years, beginning probably in Baghdad, Iraq, in the 4th Islamic century. Tradition holds that Imam Hossein and 72 of his followers were slain on that day after fighting bravely with the much larger army of the Umayyad Caliph, Yazid ibn Moaaviyeh, which some historians have said was 100,000 men strong.

The death of Imam Hossein, his friends, followers and members of his family by a Sunni Caliph is perhaps the main reason that Shiism is considered a rebellious sect in Islam. Because the Shiites have been a minority throughout the history of Islam, they have transformed the historical battle of Karbala to symbolize ideological confrontation with the ruling elite, and have used a powerful combination of actual events and legend to stir up great emotion; it has been an occasion to complain bitterly about their marginalization in much of the Islamic world and to demand their rights. They invoke Imam Hossein's famous quote that, "Every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala."

In a sense, the battle still rages on. Currently there exists an internal strife in Yemen between the majority Shiite and the ruling Sunni minority. The uprising in Bahrain (1994-2000), another country in which the Sunni minority rules over the Shiite majority, began in November 1994 when security forces launched an attack on the Shiite community there. There has also always been friction between Saudi Arabia's majority Sunni and its Shiites, who make up 10 percent of the population. In Lebanon, the Shiites have used their grievances against other sects as a powerful motivating force to gain political power.

There is the other side of the coin. The well-known Hama massacre occurred on February 2, 1982, when the Syrian army attacked the town of Hama in Syria, and sealed it in order to put down a Sunni revolt led by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. Syria was, and still is, ruled by the Alawite (Alawie) minority, an off-shoot of Shiism. Up to 40,000 people were killed, and most of the city was destroyed. [Note that about 30% of Turkey's population also belongs to the Alawite sect.] After the U.S. invasion of Iraq led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, the non-Kurdish Sunnis (making up about about 20% of the population) fiercely fought the central government until they were defeated.

By 1845, Moharram commemorations spread as far as the Caribbean basin, when Muslim laborers from India went there. In fact, next to its annual carnival, Moharram is the most important event in Trinidad. In India, the Sunni and even the Hindus actively participate in many Moharram rituals.

In Iran, where the Shiites are in the majority, the battle of Karbala and the death of Imam Hossein have taken on political significance for at least a century. This began during the Constitutional Revolution (1905-11), when gatherings to mourn the death of Imam Hossein became political as well. The clerics began preaching that the oppressors -- the king and his cronies -- were similar to Imam Hossein's enemies. The commemoration of Ashura became so political during the reign of Reza Shah that he actually outlawed it during the 1930s.

This year promises to be no different. The Green Movement has vowed to use the day of Ashura -- Sunday, December 28 -- to stage peaceful demonstrations and showcase its strength. Given that the color green has a special meaning in Islam, and that Imam Hossein, an underdog in the Karbala battle, is considered a symbol of resistance against oppressors and absolute power, the demonstrations, if they materialize, will be hugely significant. As fate would have, the Islamic mourning ceremonies marking the 7th day of the passing of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri will also fall on Ashura, which will likely fuel the intensity, as it will be rich in symbolism and can resonate politically throughout the country.

This would not be the first time that the powerful mix of imagery, symbolism, events and legend is used to advance a political agenda. It has happened twice over the past half century, each time with great consequence.

Ashura 1963

The first time that Ashura was used to great effect was in 1963. Under pressure from the Kennedy administration to carry out reforms, on January 26, 1963, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi declared the so-called White Revolution. It was a program of reform consisting of (1) land reform, whereby large agricultural land was to be distributed among peasants working on them [the landowners were to be compensated]; (2) nationalization of the forests; (3) privatization of state-owned industries; (4) granting women the right to vote; (5) workers sharing profits in industry; and (6) a nationwide campaign against illiteracy. (On the face of it, the program was progressive. Whether it was a success is not the subject of this article.)

Land reform actually got under way under Dr. Ali Amini (1905-1992), who was Prime Minister from May 1961 to July 1962. He was pro-United States and a friend of President John F. Kennedy. The Shah had appointed him Prime Minister after being pressured by the United States. But he claimed the reforms as his own after Amini was forced to resign.

Land reform and women's suffrage were objected to by the traditional clerics. But it was the land reform [not granting voting rights to women, as some claim] that was most objectionable to them. The clergy thought that land would be taken away from the landowners without consent, which is forbidden by Islam. In addition, some clerics saw land reform as an attempt by the Shah to reduce their influence among the feudal landlords.

After consulting with other ayatollahs in Qom, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a harsh declaration denouncing the Shah and his plans. The Shah retaliated by moving tanks to Qom, and delivering a speech in which he said the ayatollahs were like a caste. It did not silence Ayatollah Khomeini.

In 1963, Ashura fell on June 3. [Because the Islamic calendar is lunar-based, Ashura falls on a different day each year on the solar calendar.] On that afternoon, Khomeini delivered a fiery sermon at the Feiziyeh seminary (where he was teaching), in which he drew parallels between Yazid and the Shah, and called him a "wretched, miserable man." Two days later, on June 5 (15 Khordad on the Iranian calendar), Khomeini was arrested.

The arrest sparked three days of large demonstrations throughout the country and hundreds were killed. That gave birth to the 15 Khordad Movement. As I explained in an earlier article, when I was a child, I personally witnessed some of the demonstrations in Bazaar, Tehran's commercial center. Ayatollah Khomeini was kept under house arrest for several months, and was eventually released in April 1964. The 15 Khordad Movement laid the groundwork for the 1979 Revolution.

In 1964 the Shah and his Prime Minister, Hassan-Ali Mansur (1923-1965), signed an agreement that granted U.S. military advisers and their families immunity from prosecution in Iran. The Majles [parliament] then ratified the agreement. The law became known as the Capitulation Law. In a fiery speech, Ayatollah Khomeini said,

They [the parliament] passed it [the agreement] without any shame, and the government shamelessly defended this scandalous measure. They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of an American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he will be prosecuted. Even if the Shah himself were to run over a dog belonging to an American, he would be prosecuted. But if an American cook runs over the Shah, or the marja' [source of emulation] of Iran, or the highest officials, no one will have the right to object.

The speech prompted the Shah to send Ayatollah Khomeini into exile, first to Turkey, on November 4, 1964, and later to Iraq. Mansur was assassinated on January 27, 1965, by Mohammad Bokharaei, a 17-year-old member of the Fadayan-e Islam [Devotees of Islam] group. It is believed that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani provided the gun to Bokharaei. He and his three accomplices -- Haj Sadegh Amani, Reza Saffar Harandi, and Morteza Niknejad -- were executed.

It should be pointed out that after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979, the conservative clerics wanted to take away the right to vote from women, but he kept them from doing so. Ayatollah Khomeini also formed the so-called Hayat haaye Haft Nafareh [seven-member groups] to carry out land reform [which they did to some extent], but that too was later blocked by the same bloc of conservative clerics.

Ashura 1978

The second time Ashura was used to advance a political cause was in December 1978, when the Revolution had gained momentum. That year Ashura fell on December 11. The government of Prime Minister Jafar Sharif Emami (1910-1998), which had come to power on August 27, 1978, had failed to stem the growing wave of protests. The bloody crackdown on demonstrators on Friday, September 8, 1978 [known as Black Friday in Iran, during which up to 80 people had been killed by security forces], had created a fissure between the Shah and the opposition that was expanding by the day.

On Saturday, November 4, 1978, during demonstrations at the University of Tehran, several high school and university students had been killed. There were strikes all over the country, which left the nation paralyzed.

Two days later, Sharif Emami resigned. At noon that day, the Shah went on national television and radio and announced the appointment of a military government led by General Gholam-Reza Azhari who had a reputation for being a moderate military leader. The Shah promised the nation that he would address their grievances and hold free elections. He said that he "had heard your [the people's] revolutionary voice," and that

In the open political atmosphere, gradually developed these two recent years, you, the Iranian nation, have risen against cruelty and corruption. This revolution cannot but be supported by me, the Padeshah [King] of Iran.

However, insecurity has reached a stage where the independence of the country is at stake. Daily life is endangered and what is most critical, the lifeline of the country, the flow of oil, has been interrupted [a reference to the fact that the industry had gone on strike].

I tried to form a coalition government, but this has not been possible. Therefore, a temporary government has been formed to restore order and pave the way for a national [unity] government to carry out free elections very soon.

I am aware of the relation that has existed between political and economic corruption. I renew my oath to be protector of the Constitution and to make sure that past mistakes not be repeated and [be] made up for. I hereby give assurance that the government will do away with repression and corruption, and that social justice will be restored after the sacrifices you have made.

At the present juncture, the Imperial Army will fill its duties in accordance with its oaths. Calm must be restored with your coöperation. I invite the religious leaders to help restore calm to the only Shiite country in the world. I want political leaders to help save our Fatherland. The same goes for workers and peasants.

Let us think of Iran on the road against imperialism, cruelty, and corruption, along which I shall accompany you.

In effect, the Shah recognized the legitimacy of the Revolution. By pledging early free elections, he hoped to calm the nation and neutralize the opposition.

Many leading officials, including former Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda (1920-1979) and General Nematollah Nassiri (1911-1979), the former head of the dreaded SAVAK, the Shah's security and intelligence organization, were arrested [both were executed immediately after the Revolution in February 1979]. The Azhari government took on some taboo issues, such as an investigation into charges of corruption in the Shah's family. He also tried to restart the oil industry.

But Ayatollah Khomeini, who was in staying in the Paris suburb of Neauphle-le-Château at the time, denounced the Azhari government and called on the people to "broaden their opposition to the Shah and force him to abdicate." In a series of statements, he called for a campaign of large demonstrations during Moharram that was to begin on December 2.

On November 23, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a declaration called: "Moharram: the triumph of blood over the sword." The declaration was recorded and distributed in Iran through the network of mosques.

It began,

With the approach of Moharram, we are about to begin the epic month of heroism and self-sacrifice, the month in which blood triumphed over the sword, the month in which truth condemned falsehood for all eternity and branded the mark of disgrace upon the forehead of all oppressors and satanic governments, the month that has taught successive generations throughout history the path of victory over the dagger [or knife].

In particular, Ayatollah Khomeini targeted the days of Tasua and Ashura for large demonstrations. Tasua [meaning the 9th in Arabic language] is also commemorated because it was the day before the Karbala battle.

On November 28, the Azhari government banned "processions of any kind" during Moharram. Nevertheless, demonstrations took place in Tehran. Although the military government had imposed a curfew, it was violated. Oil production had dropped from its peak of 5.8 million to below 2 million barrels a day.

On December 2, the first day of Moharram, hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets around Tehran's Shahyad Square (now called Azadi [freedom] square), to demand the removal of the Shah and return of Ayatollah Khomeini.

On December 6, Dr. Karim Sanjabi, the leader of the opposition National Front, was released from custody. He had been arrested after traveling to France to meet with Ayatollah Khomeini.

On December 8, Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari (1905-1986), a moderate and important marja' urged his followers at a press conference in Qom to avoid violence. There had been, at the last moment, a compromise. Working through former Prime Minister Ali Amini, the Shah and the military government had reached an agreement with Ayatollah Shariatmadari (considered the most important cleric living in Iran at that time), to avoid a violent showdown between the military and the people.

That deal seemed to signal that the moment had finally come to move toward re-establishing a true constitutional monarchy that would widely limit the role of the Shah. This would have been in keeping with the original intents of the 1906 Constitution, which the Shah had repeatedly violated. But the moment came too late. First, by then, Ayatollah Khomeini was not willing to settle for anything less than toppling the monarchy. Second, even Ayatollah Shariatmadari had hardened his position. He had indicated that he would turn up the pressure if major concessions were not made by the Shah. When asked when that would happen, he had replied, "It will be soon." Third, the Shah was not ready to relinquish most of his power. When he was forced to, it was too late.

That same day, December 8, the Azhari government announced that it had lifted the ban and would permit Moharram commemorations to take place. The next day, the government promised that except for a token presence along the path of the demonstrators, it would keep the army mostly in the northern parts of Teheran [where the Shah and his family lived].

Tasua fell on Sunday, December 10. It had snowed a few days leading up to that day, but all melted away. There was an ocean of demonstrators with no beginning or end in sight. People walked side-by-side with their fists punching the air. Most men were unshaven and many women wore the hejab, even if they did not believe in the Islamic dress code. Many carried carnations and walked up to onlooking soldiers and placed the flowers in the muzzle of their rifles. Many demonstrators kissed and hugged the soldiers. Most were chanting,

Death to the Shah!

Allah-o Akbar [God is great]! Khomeini our leader!

And, a banner read,

Martyrs are the heart of history, which is the famous quote by Dr. Ali Shariati (1933-1977), the distinguished sociologist and Islamic scholar.

The population of Tehran in 1978 was less than 5 million. At least two million people, and possibly many more, took part in the demonstrations, which means at least 40% of the entire population was out in a show of force. Similarly large demonstrations took place all over Iran. The demonstrators held hands, sang revolutionary songs, and held up banners with revolutionary slogans. There were pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini everywhere, even though it was still illegal for his posters to be held in public.

Above the crowd, an American-made helicopter hovered. It reportedly carried the Shah who was watching the demonstrations. He reportedly said, "Why have they [the people] turned against me?" In the afternoon of that day, he ordered the release of 120 political prisoners. But it was too little, too late.

The next day, Ashura, there were more large demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere, but not as large as the day before. The organizers held the largest demonstrations on Tasua to surprise government forces. It was estimated that 6-9 million people demonstrated in Iran during Tasua and Ashura in 1978. Given that Iran's population was about 32 million at that time, the numbers were truly staggering.

At the end of each demonstration, a resolution with four demands was read aloud: The Shah's abdication; return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran; political freedom, and economic justice for all.

Were the demands ever met?

The Shah left Iran on January 16, 1979, but never actually abdicated. He passed away in exile on July 27, 1980, in Cairo, Egypt [he had been born in 1919]. His father Reza Shah (1878-1944) had also passed away in exile in Johannesburg, South Africa.

After Tasua and Ashura demonstrations, the military essentially lost its will to confront the people. It had become a foregone conclusion that the Shah had to leave the country. Every day more soldiers defected from the army and joined the revolutionaries.

On February 1, 1979, at 9:15 am, a chartered Air France jetliner landed at Tehran's Mehrabad airport. A victorious Ayatollah Khomeini stepped off the plane, holding the arm of a flight attendant for support. He dropped to his knees on the tarmac to kiss the soil of the land that he had left more than 14 years ago.

On February 9, 1979, at about 10:00 pm, a fight broke out between Guard-e Javidan [Immortal Guards], loyal to the Shah, and junior officers of Iran's Air Force who had declared their loyalty to Ayatollah Khomeini. He declared jihad on the loyal soldiers who were not willing to surrender. Other revolutionaries and defecting soldiers began to take over police stations and military installations, and distributed arms to the public.

On February 11, 1979, at 2:00 pm, the Supreme Military Council, led by Chief of Staff General Abbas Gharabaghi, declared itself "neutral in the current political disputes... in order to prevent further disorder and bloodshed." The Revolution had toppled the monarchy.

Ayatollah Khomeini passed away on June 3, 1989, in Tehran, leaving behind a theocracy, instead of a republic, which has now devolved into a repressive military junta headed by a cleric.

The other two demands of the demonstrators of Tasua and Ashura in 1978 -- political freedom and economic justice for all -- never materialized.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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Mr. Sahimi,
Can you write about anything without relating it to the Shah and Savak? How about the dreaded Islamic Republic, the murders, tortures, imprisoments and rapes? How about the last 30 darkest years in the history of out country? How about Billion$ wasted ,stolen and a nation looted? How about now as many have asked you these questions repeatedly? Do you have an agenda to fulfill? Quite honestly it is beginning to look ridiculous.

Shahram Javid / December 25, 2009 8:22 AM

Dear Shahram:

Ashura is coming on Sunday. The democratic movement is going to use it to demonstrate. It is always good to learn from history. You read the article in a certain ways; otherwise, you should have seen what the lesson is:

Read the end of the article again. I said, the main demands of the demonstrators, namely, equality, justice, and freedom for all, were not met. That has to do with the 30 years of the IRI, as you have put it. How else should I explain this?

While my articles may indeed be ridiculous to you, the glaring fact that supporters of the Shah do not want to hear about what he did is totally absurd. History is the best teacher, but only if it is read in its entirety.

You may be new to this site. Otherwise, you would have known that I have published too many articles on this site about the crimes that have happened in the IRI over the past 30 years. Just do a simple 30-second search.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 25, 2009 10:32 PM

dear mr sahimi,
thank you so much for this article, it is just like you said above:

who doesn't learn from history is doomed. we all need some history lessons, it is up to us to read it with critical eyes and to decide what we take.

afzaneh m. / December 26, 2009 12:28 AM


People like Muhammad Sahimi represent an Iranian political viewpoint that is pretty moderate and middle of the road. Monarchists (like you) fall into the same category as the Islamists: ultra right-wing ideologues who refuse to compromise or take into consideration ideas contrary to those they've been indoctrinated into.

Shahram, it's people like you who kept that despot, aka Light Of The Aryans, in power for so long which directly resulted in the revolution. And it was another group of people just as unwilling to compromise (just like you) who took a revolution that was popular and widespread and took advantage of it for their own benefits.

Extremists like you (and the right-wing Islamists) are exactly what is wrong with the political landscape with the diaspora and your lot is the biggest impediment towards any sort of truly democratic reforms. I'm sure you'd love to bring back the Shah's son tomorrow to run the country into the ground, just as is being done by the IRI. But since it's the autocrat that you happen to support, it must be right.

Stay out of the way of the real democrats and let real change come about. The recent Green Wave in no way has anything to do with the monarchist movement and all of you who take advantage of this to badmouth the IRI are just wasting time. Your autocrat lost. Your time is over. Go back into exile.

Mirza Kuchak / December 26, 2009 1:08 AM

Mirza kuchak dorost mige. Man ghabool daram baa shoma

M / December 26, 2009 3:49 AM

There is a video interview with someone who has been in both Shah's and Islamic Republic's prisons. He says that "one day in Islamic Republic's prison is like 10 years in Shah's prison." I saw it on TV a few days ago, unfortunately I did not catch his name.

Shah was an angel compared to anyone associated with Islamic Republic. Shah's only mistake was not to uproot all political mullas and islamists. Iran needs fundamental changes to progress beyond where it is and that will not happen as long as any mulla or sheikh has any role in political scene. I just saw an article that Islamists are making billions importing anything and everything and thus have destroyed all industries and agriculture that Pahlavis built including Steel, Sugar, Rice, and Tea. According to the article, even tombstone and chewing gum are not imported from china, each producing millions to billions of dollars of income for mullas.

Mirza: you not only do not understand Monarchists, but fail to understand the meaning of democracy. Monarchists are vindicated by what other alternatives, islamists, leftists, and intellectuals, brought upon iran. Did you know that Iran of 1979 was categorized by UN in about the same level of development as South Korea, Taiwan, and ahead of Turkey; not to mention that she was ahead of all persian gulf states, brazil, and china. Who did all that? Pahlavis! Yes, there was corruption in an absolute sense, but much closer in extent to corruption in democracies than in islamic states or dictatorships, and petty compared to islamic republic in all aspects. It is as simple as 2 by 2 equals 4 to understand that!

People like you and Prof. Sahimi are ideologues who dislike shah for ideologic and psychologic and emotional reasons and not because of rationality and logic; Dr. Sahimi never loses a chance to put down anything iranian and present islam in a utopian form that it is proved not to be. He views and wants iran as Islamistan rather than a culturally independent country. Monarchists have been vindicated to be the only patriots in the last hundreds of years; their affinity towards monarchy is because there would have been no iran as we know today without monarchy, and towards Pahlavis is because they brought in the best days of iran in recent history and brought iran out of dark ages while maintaining integrity of iran. Monarchists support monarchy not because of the love for monarchy per se but because of the love for iran and that monarchy has been proven (by work of all other workable alternative) to be the best tool for progressing iran. For monarchists, monarchy is a tool not an objective. I assure you that if one day there will be a more effective, less corrupt, system "that can work" in iran and progress it more rapidly, Monarchists will be the first ones who jump on board, much sooner than any ideologue who bows to various Imams or Lenins or bogus intellectuals according to which one is more beneficial for that day. You are very naive if you assume that mullas and islamists will relinquish power and control of wealth so easily and would allow iranians to have the democracy that they seek before decades, if not hundred of years, of struggle. It will take us many decades to achieve the prosperity that we enjoyed during the reign of the late shah. Even the Green Movement knows that, otherwise they would not run after criminal thugs like Mousavi who has much darker past than shah ever had, only to achieve part of the freedom that their parents enjoyed when shah was in change. We will see!

BTW, see YouTube for Green Movement hanging late shah's picture above autobahns' overpass in tehran and distributing pictures of Prince Reza in Shiraz.

Shaheen S. / December 26, 2009 3:54 AM

Mr. Sahimi,
Is your idea of democracy represented by the likes of Mirza K.,"an Iranian political viewpoint that is pretty moderate and middle of the road"?
Is this the level of tolerance and moderation I am supposed to learn from your supporters and you?
Thanks but no thanks.

Shahram Javid / December 26, 2009 5:21 AM

I think these commenters have misread Dr. Sahimi's article.

He's presented a brief history of Ashura dates that were significant for protest and eventual revolution in Iran, with hopes that this Sunday will again be such a significant event.

There are many differences between the dates cited and the one coming up. For example, the dearth of effective leadership and organizational issues on the opposition side, and the composition of professional national police forces (including conscript soldiers) and volunteer security elements with full government backing. All the while, the religiously inclined observers (celebrants) are usually made up of the most conservative, politically.

We'll all be watching how this all comes into play on Sunday. It should be interesting.

Pirouz / December 26, 2009 11:41 AM

Ashura 101 quikly gives way to antiPahlavi 1101+ and as always.

Any curious observer can look into Iran's history prior to, during and after Pahlavi kings.We all know about the mess Iran is in at the present time. We all know about the Qhajar dynasty and how backward Iran had been at that time.

The main question is,how can anyone in his/her right mind deny the undeniable accomplishments of the Pahlavi era? It is simply insane when a backward illiterate deseased tribal nation was transferred into a leading progressive developing nation respected all around the world. Undeniable achievements.

Are we to assume there were no mistakes being made at that time? That too is insane.

We need to analyze the history from a neutral stance and describe the ample positives as well as the negatives and side by side.

Many of the mullahs and their clientele against land reform were land owners themselves and their uproar was self serving. Iranians have witnessed the mullahs and their clan stealing much of the nation's wealth in the last 30 years. A clear indication of their true intentions in the name of Allah. So the Shah of Iran was not dealing with angels, on the contrary a bunch of murdering thieves as evident to everyone today.

The Iranian opposition leadership at the time did not have the political education to lead the nation. A fact clearly demostrated by the likes of Sanjabi, Bazargan (by his own addmission) and the rest.

The American policy of refusing to allow her citizenry to be at the disposal of foreign government's system of justice and in particular the third world countries is well known around the globe.Iran was no exception. Iran's later alternative was to cut off the relationship between the two countries. Has Iran benefited from her islolation? You need to weigh the pros and cons.

Iranian people despite their legitimate rights to political freedom chose to follow a backward mullah and voted blindly in favor of a backward system of government and a backward constitution that have been the sources of regret for decades. However, can they deny their social freedoms, economic freedoms and religious freedoms of Pahlavi era? let us be fair and just.

There is a big difference between learning from history and trashing an era. Fool Iranians once, shame on you. Fool Iranians twice and the shame clearly lies on the Iranian people.
God bless the United States, my home. God bless Persia the home these Barbarians have temporarily taken away from me.

Sohrab / December 26, 2009 7:33 PM

Imam Hussein of 680 AD having attempted to subvert Umayyad Caliph system of governance by a small group of insurgency (imam Hussein and 72 disciples Vs a conventional state army of over 100,000 strong) sounds very much like an act of terrorism to me.!.

Even if the story has real roots, today's political Islam that rules Iran, is little more than an evolution of state sponsored terrorism.

This analogy is further strengthened when one looks the the events that helped the current regime come to power and lead to an immediate Hostage taking of Americans at Terhran embassy in 1980 that lasted for 444 days.

It is little wonder why the Shah of Iran had serious issues with his own domestic terror organization seeing that its roots go back at least 1000 years.

It is also little wonder why Afghanistan and Iraq were both failed states, in that failed states help legitimize the rule of Shia terrorist prophecy of 680AD Imam Hussein. In short, the more mayhem and social misery around, the more reasons for extremist Shia ideology to remain as a political force.

It is little wonder why Iran has been systemically isolated in the past 30 years, as a nation, and its borders surrounded by hostile military.

Islamic Shiasm is the oldest and most organized terro0r organization known to man.

Majid Patterson / December 26, 2009 9:19 PM

This article is about the history of Ashura and its effect on contemporary Iran. It only chronicled the events about two important Ashura days. Every single word can be checked multiple times/multiple sources for accuracy. I only chronicled the history, unlike the in-house monarchist who fabricates and revises the history in order to make his "point."

Despite the long rants, his long comment is devoid of any subtance. It is full of insults against the Iranian people and their intelligence, as well as Iran - pardon me, Persia. The revisionist fabricator does not know that his idol, Reza Shah, changed the name from Persia to Iran!!

What the monarchists like is hearing the Shah's praise, but not about his crimes - called "mistakes" by monarchists:

1921 British-sponsored coup that brought Reza Khan to power? No, he was a patriot! Sayyed Zia (who himself admitted that he was a British agent), was a patriot also!

Reza Shah being a dictator? Oh, it was necessary. But, hay, he rebuilt Iran (which I agree he did to some extent). By that criterion Joseph Stalin is the best, because he also transfromed Russia, a backward nation, to a industrial/military power house (in fact he did it during the time Reza Shah was in power). So also is Mao! So also is Augusto Pinochet!

Reza Shah killing Iran's political development? Come on! People were not ready! But, hay, in order to believe this, take a deep breadth and forget that just 20 years before Reza Shah the same "illiterate, backward" people had staged the first Constitutional Revolution in the entire Asia!!

Reza Shah having Nazi sympathies? Hiss!! Don't say anything! We say it enough, lamenting about the great Aryan race before Islam came to Iran.

The 1953 coup? Hay, it was done by Iranians! Forget that Madeleine Albright expressed regrets for it. Forget that Kermit Roosevelt bragged about it for years. Forget that the CIA released its documents about it in 2000 (published by the New York Times). Forget that Donald Wilbur wrote about it in detail. Forget that the Shah told Kermit Roosevelt, "I owe my saltanat to you." Shah mibakhsheh, but shahgholi khan nemibakhsheh!!

16 Azar 1953? "It is regretable that those three students HAD TO BE KIlled!" But, hay, use it to demonstrate, but don't tell people what the origin of 16 azar was - the foreign-sponsored coup of 1953.

The 1964 speech against capitulation? Hay the US -the monarchist home - does that to everyone. Why not Iran?

Esfand 1353 (March 1974) founding of quasi-fascist Rastakhiz party? "Iran was not ready for democracy; there was a reason for it!"

The Ashura day 1978? The Shah himself declared, "I heard your revolutionary voice," but, not the monarchists deny he said it, or if he said it, he was out of his mind.

The monarchists rant about the Shah's great work for Iran, but when it comes to undeniable, historically-documented facts, the response is, "Iran was not ready; Iranians were not educated....."

If in 1974-1978 Iran was still not ready for democracy, then a good question is, what the devil the Pahlavis were doing, aside from changing the calendar, celebrating 2500 years of monarchy, and killing intellectuals, exactly the same way that the IRI does?

The monarchists claim that the vast majority of Iranian were fooled in 1978. Either this is true, or it is not:

If it is, then the question is why? Is it not the duty and mission of a political establishment to educate its people so that they would not be fooled? Why was it that a "small" group of revolutionaries could fool a vast number of people?

If it is not, then, the Revolution was legitimate. It is as simple as that.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 26, 2009 9:47 PM

I don't find this article to be in support of a certain Iranian political party as labeled by many (certainly Iranian regime supporters)as being a Monarchist article.

It is interesting to note the shear fear of Iranian Monarchists that regime supporters demonstrate at every given opportunity.

In my view this fear of Monarchists stems from the fact that the current regime took power by sheer force of mayhem, murder and summary execution of those they perceived as "Monarchists" and an imminent fear that the same fate awaits themselves when tables are eventually turned ( in my view the regime of Iran will be toppled sometime in the late 1st quarter of 2010).

The article itself is a great introduction to Islamic Shiasm and its politically evolved role as an ideology behind domestic and global terrorism.

Lets face it, the Ayatollah establishment is solely based on a hierarchy of ignorant mullahs churning out half truths to the congregations in a dark underworld made up of the most literate segments of the Iranian society, including their supporters who incessantly post nonsense here.

Majid Patterson / December 26, 2009 10:57 PM

Pirouz, you're absolutely right about the article being misread. But what more can be expected from monarchists? They're staying true to form: reinterpreting history with the uncompromising stubbornness of a mule. Mr. Sahimi's last response clearly laid out the justifications the Shah apologists conjure up (we've heard them many times over) to water down the historical failures of the Pahlavi dictatorship.

One half of my family can be accurately described as die-hard monarchists. I grew up hearing them sing the praises of the Shah and all that he did to advance the Iranian nation. I've heard them rant on about how 1953 is a lie, Mossadeq was a Communist/British spy, and how all Iranians supposedly loved the Shah and NO ONE supported the Revolution. I've also tried on multiple occasions to discuss these issues in further detail with several of them, each time walking away being screamed at because I did not accept their rigid viewpoints without question.

I know you monarchists want all of us to believe that the Shah was loved by all of Iran's people and that 5 million people didn't really pour onto the streets to protest his dictatorship OR (if confronted by video proof) the people were tricked into doing so. You keep repeating your revisionist history that contends that the Shah was not in fact overthrown by a widespread and popular revolution, but in fact was forced to abdicate because America had decided they had had enough of such "an independent minded and strong leader who would turn Iran into a superpower." Makes plenty of sense when taking into account the decades of loyal economic/military support America gave the despot...oh wait, damn logic.

During George W. Bush's first term in office, one could argue that the U.S. economy (particularly the housing market) were in relatively good shape. But does that justify the glaring shortcomings and outright CRIMES of his administration, especially when it came to foreign policy? If you find yourself answering YES, then you should sleep comfortably knowing that you're fully vindicated in supporting the Shah's reign despite all of his glaring shortcomings and crimes.

The revolution was widespread, popular and successful. Iran is and has been an Islamic country for quite some time and no amount denials will change the fact that a preponderance of Iranians are religious (even the monarchists, their families, and their Shah!). There are quite a number of individuals both within and outside of the Green Movement who can accurately be described as substantially more moderate ideologically than any monarchist ever was/is. If any of you Shah-lovers can present a well-thought nuanced argument for a change, I'd love to hear it. Otherwise, please stop piggy-backing political movements that don't want & especially don't NEED your support. You're interference in this political dispute is precisely why the Principalists can continue to write off the opposition as foreign-backed traitors.

Mirza Kuchak / December 26, 2009 11:50 PM

Lets examine the drivers behind the so called Islamic revolution of 1979 Iran. How did they come to power and how did they manage to sustain power for over 31 years?

Neighboring Afghanistan is invaded by the USSR at the height of the cold war.
Iran's so called revolution
Saddam Hussein Rise to Power

Iran at that time was a hot bed for USSR influence amongst certain so called intellectuals of Iran. USSR communist influence in Iran was the remnants of USSR occupation of northern Iran which had ended in 1948 and had seen a disturbing rise in communist sentiments and anti shah movements, specially by Mossadegh, (Jebhe Melli Party) and their accomplices the Tudeh Party.

This anti shah/ communist/socialist movement lacked coherent leadership and highly mistrusted by majority Iranians for obvious reasons, most important of all being the leftists support of the Mullahs, helping them evolve into a political force against the Pahlavi monarchy of Iran.

1978 invasion of Afghanistan marked a very critical phase in the cold war with communism, in that the invasion of Afghanistan was to provide USSR with an strategic gain towards reaching the Oils resources of the Gulf, through an imminent invasion and annexing of Easter Iran's provinces.

The turmoil in this period was taken advantage of by the anti shah leftist political spectrum, rallying behind shia extremists and Ayatollah Khomeini which lead to the so called revolution of 1979.

Interesting to note is that Khomeini went on to round up and execute the very same leftists who brought him to power in the first place.

I suppose some anti Monarch comments posted here are by left overs of the same leftist groups and of course Regime supporters as well as some European leftists who have traditionally supported despotic regime's against that of their own systems of governance.

At any rate, it is critical to understand that the current regime would have never come to power, had it not have been for the incessant support of the Iranian political left, such as the now defunct "Tude Party", Jebheye Melli" and "the Islamic-Marxist terror group, MKO or the Mojahedden-e-Khalgh-e-Iran"

Majid Patterson / December 27, 2009 1:18 AM

Dear Prof. Sahimi: you remind me of a dull lazy student who constantly gets F grades and blames the teacher, the book, the lectures, the homeworks, and the notes for his failures. A good student never does that!

You can blame pahlavis as much as you want, with a few cheering you, but the undeniable fact is that you have nothing to show for all those who claimed that phalavis were the source of all problems; the islamists, the leftists, and the so-called intellectuals all screwed up iran when they got the chance. Walk thru iran today and all signs of modernity is rooted in pahlavi era. You have nothing to show for the last 30 years that monarchy has been absent except for war, executions, rapes, and looting of the country, and running the country more like Al Capone than like a government.

Sir, you must be very desperate that you turn to Capitulation law, but you fail to remind us how many iranians were harmed by that law as opposed to any of the discriminating islamic laws imposed on and against the people, say the forced Hejab law, which has led to uncountable arrests, imprisonments, rapes, and murders, all by AGENTS of an arab who live 1400 years ago. You play into emotions of naive people, as khomeini did, by focusing on irrelevant issues rather than being objective or empirical.

You can accuse all monarchists, from Shah to his janitor to be agents of foreign powers, but you do not mention what being agents of long dead arabs has done to this country for the past 30 years. Being an agent of foreign powers and work for the people is far superior to being agents of god and robbing and killing people for.

Your rhetorics are outstanding but are out of date; more appropriate for naive people of 70s with full stomachs than for children of revolution who have empty stomachs, no jobs, and no experience with how life was during the Shah, and yet are screaming in the streets against this godly regime.

You can tremble as much as you want when someone mentions something of iranian origin (persia, aryan, korosh, sasanian, ...) and scream "R A C I S M", another meaningless rhetoric, but fail to recognize that there has never been as much racism and discrimination in iran as we see today, albeit against iranians of various colors. Ask any kurd, any baluchi, any jew, any bahai, any christian, any darwish, any woman, and even any iranian arab and he/she can tell you of his or her daily dilemma!

Iran is infested with the cancer of political islam, and you seem to be in love with the cancer cells more than the cancer-less part of the body. You have no empirical data to show what the cancer that islamists/leftists/intellectuals brought upon iran has favorably done for iranians; you just want that to continue because you are somehow in love with the cancer that islam has proved to be and you consider it an integral part of the body. The truth is that, the body (iran) will not prosper without the cancer completely removed.

You cheer thugs like Mousavi, but fail to mention that he has far more murders and looting of the country under his belt than shah ever had in his entire regime.

Listen to practically same words as mine coming out of Majid Tavakoli:


And similar words like yours coming out of an akhond:


You have nothing to show for as achievements of islamists/leftists/intellectuals for the past 30 years except for the blame game and unending venom against long dead pahlavis. That is becoming so boring, if not insulting, to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their beloved under this islamic regime.

Kian / December 27, 2009 1:44 AM

In simple terms, Ashura is like the 4th of July that never came for a terror organization, called Islamic Shiasm.

1329 years later, the Shias still celebrate it, propagating a sense of victimization that continues to feed this self fulfilling prophecy.

In my view and with no small thanks to the left of the Iranian (and elsewhere in the muslim world) this victimization passion play will continue until the prophecy is fulfilled through a major global disaster.

The End!

Majid Patterson / December 27, 2009 1:56 AM

What do these monarchists want exactly? Are they suggesting that the Green Revolution is a counter revolution that wants to re-instate a monarchy? I have not seen ONE protest in Iran expressing pro-monarchy intentions... and believe me I have seen many. And please don't insult my intelligence by posting a video link to such a protest. I am fully aware that there may be monarchists living within Iran, but they are a minority and in no way represent the Green Revolution. The same goes with all these other out-dated political factions, such as the MKO or so called "real" Khomeinists.

What we are witnessing today is a grass-roots movement led by the youth of Iran - something that gives me hope. Why? Because all you old people, who have tainted Iranian politics with stubborn, one-minded and totalitarian idealism, are being brushed aside. Now you can all sit on the sidelines and be the delusional "wise" men telling us the 'back in my day' stories. Meanwhile, the real revolutionaries are exposing their bodies to batons, chains and bullets. We have lost Neda, Sohrab, Kianoosh and tens if not hundreds more. What do they have in common? They are all young, pure and thirsty for democracy and the freedom to think for themselves. What do you people have in common? You are all old, saturated and determined to have things your own way. You have lived through years of turmoil and upheaval and yet you still have the nerve to stick to your outdated ideologies! These ideologies are the root cause of Iran's problems! And not once have I seen any of you praise what is going on in Iran! At most you dedicate one insultingly small footnote at the end of your rant, saying something like 'oh, by the way I support whatever the people of Iran want'. How disgraceful!

I am happy that you are fighting your wars on internet forums while the real fighting is left to those who can actually make meaningful changes for Iran. Today, we have no Shah to mute us with superficial gestures. We have no Khomeini to mislead us into Islamic tyranny. What we do have is hope, expectations and determination; and most importantly, we have YOU PEOPLE to show us what exactly went wrong!!!

Prof. Sahimi, thank you for an informative and impartial article. We need more of these articles to inform us of the past, so we can learn from our mistakes.

Pak / December 27, 2009 3:47 AM

Dear hard-working Kian:

First of all, as a professor in a major research university, and someone who has educated at least 600 undergraduate students, another 1000 graduate students, 40 doctoral students who did their doctoral thesis and research with me, 12 postdoctoral students, and someone who has published 300 scientific papers and 5 books, I should recognize a lazy when I see one, but I did not. You woke me up. I am lazy!

Anyone else in my position would have published 400 articles in support of the Green Movement over the past 6 months, not my meager 100 or so.

Secondly, I confess that I was, am, and will be - until I leave the scene - anti-monarchy. That is my opinion, I am fully entitled to it, and I wear the label as a badge of honour. You believe in freedom of thought, don't you? Believe in whatever you want. I have no problem with anything that you believe in.

Third, and above all, tell me: In the present article, which is not about either the Shah or Ayatollah Khomeini - rather it is about the Ashura day itself - what did I say that is not factually correct?

I only chronicled two events. I did not pass judgement on whether the White Revolution, or the capitulation law and speech. All I said was, this is what happened.

The fact is, as I have said repeatedly, monarchists do not want to hear about what the Shah and his father did wrong. They only want to hear praise!!

Read the last three paragraph of my last comment (above) and, if you care, address them. But, to repeat: either the 1979 Revolution was legitimate, or it was not. If it was not, then we must assume that at least 90% of the people were easily fooled by a small group. Then, the question is, why?

Why could the Shah not educate the people politically, so that they would not be fooled so easily? He was the one who killed the press. He was the one who banned even cartoonish political parties. He was the one who eliminated the secular opposition, so that people were left only with the religious groups. He was the one who declared that, "anyone who does like this [the quasi-fascist Rastakhiz Party], can get his passport and leave the country."

If the Revolution was legitimate, then I rest my case!

The trouble with your argument is that, you confuse a legitimate revolution with its aftermath. 31 years of hindsight and experience should be used to address this question: Why did a great revolution go bad? But, instead they are used to question the Revolution's legitimacy. The fact is, one terrible regime - the IRI - does not justify another terrible regime - the Shah's. People threw away one, and will do so to the second one as well.

Finally, as I discussed in the article, the Shah himself accepted the Revolution, you don't? Shah mibakhsheh, vali shahgholi khan nemibakhsheh? I find this astounding.

If you care to respond, stick to the points, and address my specific comments. You know, I am lazy and cannot read long meaningless rants!

Lazy Muhammad Sahimi / December 27, 2009 4:30 AM

Its not "interesting" at all to watch events in Iran from a safe vantage. Its agonizing and dispiriting, only a sadist could get any pleasure out of it. When the people win only then will it be interesting. As far as technological progress goes the argument could be made that what with computers, mobile phones,missiles and nuclear developments the IRI has done fairly well on that basis but eveyone knows this is a silly proposition. To truly assess the effect of the Shahs reign you need to look closely at his primary sponsors the CIA, Cold-Warriors like Nixon and others which is an inexhaustible subject. Just as we don't know how many civilian casualties have occurred in Iraq because the US Army doesn't record these numbers we don't really know the scale of the atrocities under the Shah.I don't believe that trading body counts is the most important strand of the debate. Harold Pinter in his Nobel address made the point that during the Cold War even when horrendous crimes occurred they never happened.This was dismissed by many as rude Bush-bashing.Reading US historical sources you could be forgiven for thinking that Iran had been turned into one large CIA proprietary like Air America and that a version of the Phoenix Program was operating in Iran. Of course, none of these things ever happened.There are many individual Americans who were no part of this,many who were and still are unaware and many who ,unfortunately ,were victims

pirooz / December 27, 2009 6:05 AM

Well said, Pak. Thank you.

Mirza Kuchak / December 27, 2009 6:25 AM

Pak wrote:
?????????????What do these monarchists want exactly????????????

Pak, is this a trick question? I mean seriously. What do YOU think "Monarchists" want?

MohsenTavakoli / December 27, 2009 6:41 AM

Dear Lazy Muhammad Sahimi;

Judging by the way that you spell "Mohamad" you may well be yet another Islamic regime sympathizer and a non-Persian/
Given your insistence in boasting your academic credentials, suggests that you may be yet another so called Islamic scholar amongst thousands who currently dot Islamic Madressas or lecturing on one of many Islamic studies courses that are currently sponsored by the regime of Iran across universities in Easter Europe as well as some universities in Britain (Given your self professed academics, puts your profile at the above position at best OR a low ranking Islamic preacher at some local Mosque somewher in Palistan).

At any rate, I have no idea what your intentions behind incessant posting of irrelevant comments here maybe, however it is clear that you do not know much about Persians, Persian culture or how the Persians have come to live in a hate relationship with Islam and Islamic Shiasm.

What people of your caliber fail to understand is a very simple dynamics that every addict must understand in order to succeed in shedding their addiction (either stemming from a substance abuse or an ideological disorder).

Iran has been governed by a system of Monarchy for the past 2500 years. Monarchy is in Iranian genes.

Why do you think it is that even the Iranian regime supporters like yourself, have idolized Khameni? He represents a pseudo Monarch (Except that in essence he is not).

Try and contemplate this thought for a moment or two, then try to understand that Khomeini did actually serve a purpose for the Persians in that he unwittingly stopped an imminent invasion of communist ideology into Iran after the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR.

Khomeini also cleansed Iran of the hard core communists and so called intellectuals of various leftist and Marxist and nationalist political parties by killing almost all their leaders. (Something that the Monarchs of Iran like the Pahlavis would never have done).

Now, there is no longer a need for the Islamic Republic to remain on the map. Period.

Iranians will work towards a secular system of governance given their ancient history of multiculturalism.

Iranians will also be likely to reinstate the Monarchy, given 2500 years of Monarchist history embedded in their genes.

Try and consider these dynamics before you post more nonsense.

Thank You.

Siamak Manz / December 27, 2009 7:40 AM

Dear Prof. Sahimi: I thank you for your sarcastic response. You did not get my point maybe since it would not have suited you. I do not doubt for a moment about your academic achievements, but I agree with you that you are "ideologically" lazy, in fact very lazy or conveniently lazy, as are all soft and hard proponents of regime and opponents of the shah. Your analysis is more like "kimiagari" than scientific chemistry, in which you try so hard to turn the copper into gold and then celebrate your own success.

I just saw your other article about 16 Azar. You 'rightly' embed your outrage at killing of (assumed) innocent students (although misguided). I concur with you! No-one should have been harmed for benign ideological reasons or voicing them. One or more persons in Shah's regime should be kept accountable for that event. What I have strong disagreements with you on is that that event is simply one page of a 10,000-page black book; the rest of the pages are filled with names of at least 3 other students (on average) killed on every single day during the last 30 years. Where is the outrage for all those remaining 16 Azars; i.e., every day of the last 30 years has been a 16 Azar for the people of iran? The fact that 16 Azar '32 has turned into an epical day is its rarity, the rarity that has become an every day commodity in the last 30 years. That by itself should be telling of how shah's regime was.

I really mean no disrespect, but you lack analytical skills in social-political events and view yourself as a "kimiagar" who only has to claim this and that without any "scientific analysis" and with ignoring the underlying reasons or lack thereof. You are ideological with islamist tendencies and that is the essence that you use to turn any event into a golden opportunity for supporting your agenda and to avoid saying that you were wrong instead of blaming others. You are an islamist with deep hatred for the shah, and that has to be proven over and over again, no matter what the subject, no matter if that is supported by facts, and no matter if that has led to disaster the last time. I am sure you supported the revolution and khomeini and we now know that you were wrong; you just did not have the foresight then that some of us "monarchists" had.

No, the revolution was not legitimate; absolutely not legitimate. Because it was based on lies and deceit; lies about the past and lies about the future. That is no revolution; that is a set-up, a staged riot, with disastrous results. One did not need to have 31 years of hindsight to see that; only an eye for the truth and an understanding of who those revolutionaries were and the iranian society; the hindsight that likes of Bakhtiar did not have but did have the vision and knew iran far better than those who were blind-sighted by their personal ideology or agenda. Just imagine for a moment, what would have happened if those two conditions were true: if khomeini had told the truth about the extent of corruption of the shah as well as what he (khomeini) would really do. In that imaginary situation, either revolution had not happened or it had led us to at least a progressive constitution that may have led us out of the disaster that we see today. I have no doubt that revolution was illegitimate, and the best proof is where it took us. I believe it was Baghi who said they consciously exaggerated corruption of the Shah by hundreds of times and delivered it to khomeini. Khomeini being unaware of the exaggerations, himself exaggerated the exaggerated numbers by another tens of times and delivered something outrageous to people. People out of their blind faith in anything religious would pour into the streets assuming that Shah stole $56 billion of their money and killed 600,000 of their youth and that khomeini would deliver to them unprecedented freedom and democracy and prosperity that they were bought into. I would have done the same had I been as naive as rank-and-file iranians were, as ideologic as the revolutionaries were, or as treasonous as fake-intellectual opportunists like yazdi, bazargan, and mullas were.

Dear Professor, you neither understand the iranian society of pre-reza-shah nor the iranian society of 1979, and maybe not the iranian society of today. You view everyone like those simplistic students of tehran university and are badly upset why shah did not yield power sooner, aka 1953, to the gangsters so that they could bring us where we are few years sooner.

When reza shah took power, the literacy rate was around 3%; what is he supposed to do with an illiterate country which has essentially come to a dead stop in medieval times for at least 200 years? He tried to work within the constitution with mullas with no success; he had a choice to dance to their tone, just like Qajar did, or become a dictator. They pretty much opposed everything progressive that he wanted to do; just like afghanistan is today with taleban being modern day version of then mullas. Would you have been happier if iran had stayed like today's republic of afghanistan or like Qajar era or perhaps disintegrated? You should know that he tried to declare iran a republic, mullas opposed. You should know that Khuzestan had essentially gone independent under Sheikh Khaz'al, Mazanderan was under Bolsheviks, and Azarbayejan was in turmoil. What was he supposed to do? Have you read "the first parliament" book printed in iran about 5 years ago where the author describes events from 1905 to 1925 where "elected" representatives of people were mostly likes of illiterate bazaari cooks and weavers and had no idea what running a country means let alone moving it forward?

Your mistake is that you trivialize anything and everything into political freedom as if that was the only thing that million of illiterate iranians needed then, and then make a black-and-white judgement, and once you are led to the disastrous result, you either blame the pahlavis or excuse yourself that you did not have the benefit of the hindsight. Well, there is something else called "vision" that the illiterate reza shah had but the literate revolutionaries did not; the nationalist bakhtiar had but the nationless mullas did not (remember khomeini said nationalism is like paganism).

Confident people make bad mistakes when they err; and sometimes a majority can be badly wrong with devastating effects, be it germans of 40s or iranians of 70s.

Kian / December 27, 2009 9:25 AM

Dear Kian:

Thank you for your response. You likened me to a lazy student without knowing anything about me. I concured, but my response was sarcastic? I don't get it!

You did not respond to any of my questions. Instead, you went on a long lecture, which has nothing to do with the subject of discussion, and what I asked you to address. I am also a history buff and know Iran's history extremely well, but thanks for the lecture.

You don't seem not to get the point yourself (I concede I may not get yours): Even if we blame a few rougue elements for some crimes, the fact is it is the system that allows such rougues to do what they want. Besides, if such excuses are acceptable, the IRI can come up with 1000 of them (and they have!).

Just keep this in mind: Without true political development and freedom (including freedom of the press, thought, religion, etc.) there can be no true economic development. There are just too many examples of it around the world, from Joseph Stalin, Mao, and Pinochet, to the Shah, IRI, central and south America, etc.


I am happy that you have monarchist genes in you, in addition to have a fantasizer's genes. Obviously, laws of evolution are not applicable to you. Otherwise, your genes should have evolved long time ago. Mine did, and converted me to a secular republican.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 27, 2009 9:00 PM

So, according to some commentators on this page, monarchy, a.k.a. 'oriental despotism,' is in our genes.

If true, then I would like to become the new Shah. I desperately need the money and groupies that job attracts. Furthermore, I have checked my lineage carefully and find that my Persian pedigree is better than the genetically messy Pahlavis, who have sullying traces of Turkic, Arab, Jewish, Macedonian, Scythian, Elamite, Armenian and Mongol blood in their impure ancestry.

By the way, for serious readers, I suggest a great article in today's Independent by Ali Ansari:


Ali from Tehran / December 28, 2009 4:37 AM

great article mr sahimi,as usual many histoical events were analyized very carefully.some of the events are during my life time and it was interesting to read them,you have very nicely put them in order.my message to monarchist are,i grew up in iran ,during the shahs time,all of our school books had their family pictures on the first two or three pages,i became the opponent of his regime during my college days.you must understand that this generation do not know who pahlavi family is or have any interest in it.we are entering a new era in politics and this green movement should not be muddied by any special interest.so many innnocent lives have been lost,this movement belongs to people of iran and their youths,i have an obligation as an american-iranian to support them.not the monarchs or the mujaheds.iran needs democracy not another dictator replacing the other.

fay moghtader / December 28, 2009 8:08 AM

Mr. Sahimi I suggest you and your handful of supporters practice what you preach.
You say, "Just keep this in mind: Without true political development and freedom (including freedom of the press, thought, religion, etc.) there can be no true economic development."

If freedom of thought is a must, what gives you the right to treat the supporters of Monarchy as outcasts? Who can claim a Monarchy cannot be democratic? Can a Republic be dictatorial? Your revolutionary creation is a prime example.
Has it ever occurred to you that you may suffer from an acute case of duplicity?

Your country is undergoing a second revolution. This alone is unbelievable and yet you are far more interested in proving 'Sahimi-ism' rather than teaching your people the fundamentals of pluralism in these critical times. I find it very odd and short sighted. You must defeat the Islamic Republic under one banner of unity before you can even think about ideology.

Robert LeRoux / December 28, 2009 6:26 PM

@ Mr. LeRoux,

Go back and read the comments from the start. Monarchist attack the author from the onset, simply because he details history of political events in Iran that they disagree on. And they fail to argue the facts of the article. they attack him personally. Who is suffering from duplicity sir?

RE your statement "you and your 'handful' of supporters practice what you preach". and you say THE AUTHOR is calling others "outcasts"? who is suffering from duplicity sir?

Re your comment "Your country is undergoing a second revolution. This alone is unbelievable"
Did you sleep through last weekend? Do you not see the parallels with the other Ashuras in Iranian history? BTW THIS was the point of the article, not the Shah or monarchy.

RE your statement "Who can claim a Monarchy cannot be democratic? Can a Republic be dictatorial?" I suggest you ask the young protestors in Iran, instead of the "patriot" , "Persian" , "elite" in Los Angeles, if they want monarchy.
If your aim is a constitutional monarchy as in England, Netherlands and Belgium, I am afraid that train left Iran decades ago.

RE your comment "interested in proving 'Sahimi-ism' " I assume that is an attempt at a joke. That comment can not be taken seriously. No comment.

Thank you, wonderful comments. You said it all.

@Dr. Sahimi,
Thank you for the history lesson. I always enjoy your articles and the readers' commentary. Your articles regularly initiate great debate. and I learn a great deal from them.

Ahvaz / December 28, 2009 9:22 PM

@ Mr. LeRoux,

Go back and read the comments from the start. Monarchist attack the author from the onset, simply because he details history of political events in Iran that they disagree on. And they fail to argue the facts of the article. they attack him personally. Who is suffering from duplicity sir?

RE your statement "you and your 'handful' of supporters practice what you preach". and you say THE AUTHOR is calling others "outcasts"? who is suffering from duplicity sir?

Re your comment "Your country is undergoing a second revolution. This alone is unbelievable"
Did you sleep through last weekend? Do you not see the parallels with the other Ashuras in Iranian history? BTW THIS was the point of the article, not the Shah or monarchy.

RE your statement "Who can claim a Monarchy cannot be democratic? Can a Republic be dictatorial?" I suggest you ask the young protestors in Iran, instead of the "patriot" , "Persian" , "elite" in Los Angeles, if they want monarchy.
If your aim is a constitutional monarchy as in England, Netherlands and Belgium, I am afraid that train left Iran decades ago.

RE your comment "interested in proving 'Sahimi-ism' " I assume that is an attempt at a joke. That comment can not be taken seriously. No comment.

Thank you, wonderful comments. You said it all.

@Dr. Sahimi,
Thank you for the history lesson. I always enjoy your articles and the readers' commentary. Your articles regularly initiate great debate. and I learn a great deal from them.

Ahvaz / December 28, 2009 10:39 PM

second time here.
just as a comment. why Iranian people are still in conflict with each other. one tries to approve the other one to be wrong. it happened for me to watch the Iranian tv channel last night and i have noticed the same attitude.
heay all, just chill. let people inside Iran to decide.
bunch of bored and oldies here writing while laying on their couches and putting comments making decisions instead of poor youth inside Iran.
people who are outside Iran, you lost your chance. you left Iran and you didnt have the balls to do the write things.
so now its time for the ones who are inside.
so all of you, go and have your cappuccino/scotch or coffee.

Persian Mind / December 28, 2009 11:29 PM

Mr. Ahvaz (author), in civilized parts of the world questions directed at the author are answered by the author unless the author is too cowardly and uses an assumed name. In that case the joke is on him since he needs his own praise for himself. ??
Duplicity lies on you Sir.
"Dr. Sahimi,
Thank you for the history lesson. I always enjoy your articles and the readers' commentary. Your articles regularly initiate great debate. and I learn a great deal from them."


Robert LeRoux / December 28, 2009 11:48 PM

Dear Mr Leroux,

Are you implying that I am M. Sahimi? Wow. That's a new one!
No my Name is Ahvaz. Not Dr. Sahimi, but thak you for the good laugh. I needed that on glumy monday. LOL

I am sorry but I fail to see the duplicity in my statement earlier "@Dr. Sahimi, Thank you for the history lesson. I always enjoy your articles and the readers' commentary. Your articles regularly initiate great debate. and I learn a great deal from them."

Please inform me of my "duplicity" so that I can work on improving myself. Is it "duplicity" to thank the author for an article one finds interesting. Or is it "duplicity" to enjoy the dabate that an articles initiates and then learn from them? please explain Mr. LeRooux. I am all ears.

BTW Isn't LeRoux a French name? I find the similarities between the Iranian and the French revolution very interesting. One can learn a lot from history, dont you think? Or am I being duplicate?

Ahvaz / December 29, 2009 1:27 AM

What's wrong with a healthy political spectrum is not having a full colored profile.

Either in ruling or reigning forms monarchy had been the only form of civil governance in Iran from 500B.C to 1979A.D.

In my view there will be a strong social and political leniency towards the reinstatement of monarchy in Iran, after all is said and done.

Mark my words Mr. Sahimi.!

Majid Patterson / December 29, 2009 1:33 AM

@Persian Mind

You just insulted three nations, calling one of them "Mother XXXX". How would you feel if an Arab Insulted Iran the same way you insulted other nations?

You may have no trouble yelling "DEATH to AMERICA" Or Death to Israel Or even "Death to China or Russia". Yet your blood would boil if any one yelled death to Iran. Heavens forbid some one insults our glorious culture. But we can do it to others all day long.

Iran will not find peace as long as we show this level of hostility and disrespect of other nations.
Instead of insulting people on this forum as old or irrelevant why dont you learn to respect others first.

Ahvaz / December 29, 2009 2:08 AM

Mr. Ahvaz,
I am an American.I am not here to discuss the French nor have a discussion with you Sir.
Perhaps we are not communicating.
I ADDRESSED THE AUTHOR. You don't seem to have enough common sense to realize this very simple requirement for mutual respect.
It this clear?
Good Bye.

Robert LeRoux / December 29, 2009 2:14 AM

Thank you Professor Sahimi,
many of your protesters don't have any idea or knowledge about Iran history and statistics.

HD / December 29, 2009 2:18 AM

Mr. Robert LeRoux

I have no intention of getting in an argument about common sense with you. You seem to lack it yourself. Why else would you post your private question for the author on an open forum where every one can read and comenton? and who with common sense would expect a reply from an author from any idiot who posts a comment on this site

au revoir

Ahvaz / December 29, 2009 3:37 AM

Majority of Iranians are moslems. Majority of them are religious and adhere to their beliefs. I respect that and have no problem for them to practice as they wish.

The preferred form of rule is a secular constitution. But in a society like Iran, it has to very sensitive to religion, ethnicity, and class.

Respecting the right of religious practice entails the permission for "nahye as monker & amre'-be-ma'roof", which is one of the main pillars of Islamic law. This law REQUIRES moslems, if they wish to be true moslems to stop sinners from sinning, and "guide/order" those who are not adhering to the shariat.

Do we curtail this right? If not, we will have vigilantes like we do have now. If we do, we will have a suppressed and oppressed majority who will not be content with their freedom.

Thus, it is necessary to have religious people involved in the government. It is inevitable.

When we voted for the last constitution, it was promised that Velayat'e faghih was by election, and not selection.

Also, in 1362 (Solar) the constitution was altered to allow for the leader not to be a Marja (emulation), which has lead to appointment of Khamenei to leadership, who is not from the people. A marja is from the people, vetted over30 or 40 years.

The first step seems to be the return to the constitution of 1979 which was drafted with the input of secular and moslems politicians. It was damaged in 1362. Lets correct that as a first step and move on to more contemporary changes as needed.

This will avoid disrupting the society and opens the way for a dynamic constitution that will represent the development of social and political space in Iran.

nassim sabba / December 29, 2009 6:18 PM

Ms. Nassim Sabba,

You are totally, totally wrong. Even prior to the Barbaric Republic Iran was a Moslem country.

Iranians practiced their religions in the privacy of their domains without interference from outside sources. Moslem, Christian, Jews, Zorastarians, Bahais and what have you practiced their religions in privacy and in peace. Religion was not an issue in Iranian society. This is a historical fact.

What you are referring to is simply a hoax and for very obvious reasons. To scare Iranians from making the right choices. To portray a false religious image of Iran to the outside word.

It will not work. Iranians are done with organized political religion. Iranians have already voted on a secular democratic government of the people, for the people and by the people. All one has to do is listen to people in the streets of Iran. People have spoken. The Barbaric Republic belongs in the garbage of history.


God bless the United States, my home. God bless Persia the home these Barbarians have temporarily taken away from me.

Sohrab / December 29, 2009 10:44 PM

Dear Nassim,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Perhaps also a federal constitution allowing provincial legislatures to set their own moral and sumptuary codes?

Adherents of different lifestyles could gravitate towards provinces where like-minded citizens are in the majority.

It should be possible, within a country as large and diverse as Iran, to give the populace a wider choice of lifestyles.

Ali from Tehran / December 29, 2009 11:14 PM

Ali, you certainly are not from Tehran since there is no internet communication right now.
The likes of Nassim or you who support the Islamic Republic are a joke. Our people are losing their lives trying to get rid of tyranny and you people talk about band aids to rescue the regime?? Don't you people have any dignity?Iranians want a secular democracy where religion plays no role in the government of the country.Your days are over.

Taraneh / December 30, 2009 1:35 AM

Ali from tehran wote:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>Perhaps also a federal constitution allowing provincial legislatures to set their own moral and sumptuary codes?>>>>>>>>>>
How about naming Qum after Khamenei and calling it a deal? I know, How about giving Isfahan to Shariatmadari and Khuzestan to Ahmadinejad so they can all have their own little "moral and sumptuary codes", like the good old days of the qajaris , some 200 years ago.

This a joke or what?

Majid Patterson / December 30, 2009 3:33 AM

Interesting to read all the comments.

I have to say that I disagree with Dr. Sahimi regarding the legitimacy of the revolution. The alternatives on offer were all poorer than the Pahlavi regime; namely these were:-

1. the Khomeini-ists who prevailed and I think most agree (including Dr. Sahimi ["revolution gone bad"]) that this has been worse for Iran than the Shah.

2. there was the MKO which to me did not appear to offer anything but a mix of communism and islamicism (even though today they claim they have transformed into a secular democratic organization).

3. other leftist-communist organizations - history has already passed judgement on this ideology.

4. nationalists and liberals - this would appear to me to have been the best alternative, but as we know they were quickly marginalized.

I think two distinct comparisons are pertinent:

1. compare the Pahlavi regime versus the post-revolutionary regime. IMO the Pahlavi regime was clearly less brutal and repressive than the revolutionary regime. Moreover, it appears that there were far more social and economic gains for Iran and the people of Iran during the Pahlavi era than during the post-revolutionary period.

2. comparison of a (hypothetical) truly democratic (secular) Iranian government versus EITHER the Pahlavi regime OR the post-revolution regime. In this instance it seems that a truly democratic regime is preferable to BOTH the Pahlavi regime and the post-revolution regime.

So when looking at present events do we really want reform of the Islamic government of the IRI by the likes of Mousavi and Karroubi (or to return to an absolute monarchy)? Of course I admire Mousavi and Karroubi's courage and I accept that people can change their views - the views they hold now may not be those that they held when they were in government during the repression of the opponents of the IRI (which Dr. Sahimi has written extensively on). But in the end they have to be held to account for their previous actions.

To me the idea of a reformed IRI is not appealing as I still have issues living with and under such a government (with its repressive laws). Rather the ideal which the green movement should be aiming for is a truly democratic and secular government for Iran. Surely this is what all Iranians should be aiming for today.

Your comments are appreciated.

Agha Irani / December 31, 2009 1:03 PM

Agha Irani,
Why do we have to return to absolute Monarchy? Why is it we always leave out the option of a parliamentary monarchy? Some of the most democratic and advanced countries in the world are run as such.It complements our history and culture and yet is run by the representatives of the people. The King is the symbol of unity.This can easily be a "truly democratic and secular government for Iran." Some Iranians will have to swallow their pride since their adopted alternative has proven to be a drastic mistake in the last 30 years.We have a character, well known world wide by the leadership of the international community and a proven democrat.Let us not judge him for the deeds of his father, rather on his own merit. After all, are we not aiming for democracy? So, let us not shut him out. Let's give him a fair chance just as Sahimi's choice should be given a chance and the choice of secular Republicans should be given a chance.May the best man win.

Ardeshir / December 31, 2009 8:13 PM

Why do we have to return to ANY form of monarchy, whether it's constitutional or otherwise? Monarchists have made many justifications here for the reinstatement of the monarchy in Iran. To call them adamant would be a gross understatement.
One of the most common arguments we've heard is that Iran would be best suited with some form of a constitutional monarchy akin to what exists in some European countries like Great Britain. But there are several reasons why this simply would not work. A look at history shows us that the departure from absolute monarchies in Europe came with the end of colonialism and the start of industrialization. During the colonial era, all of the wealth and power of countries like the UK was easily controlled by a VERY small group of individuals at the top of the system. But when colonialism came to an end, these nations industrialized rapidly and their economies diversified on a massive scale. This allowed wealth to spread across a much wider swath of their respective societies. In such an "ownership society" (as we see in much of the West), absolute rule by a monarch is impossible.
In Iran on the other hand, a preponderance of the nation's wealth still lies in its oil. Control of this single resource is what gives the Revolutionary Guard (and hence the Islamic Republic) its power, and LOSS of its control through strikes was precisely what brought the Shah down. Simply put, Iran is not industrialized enough and its economy is not diversified enough to sustain a legitimately constitutional monarchy. Even if the IRI fell tomorrow and a secular constitutional monarchy took its place, the new shah could easily take absolute control over the country by controlling a handful of variables. Just look at the revolution 30 years ago for the best example. It started off as popular and widespread; but in the end, control of the country ended up in hands of just one group (and ultimately one person: supreme leader). This is the East NOT the West. History here has repeatedly shown us (especially in Iran) abuse of power on a scale unseen in most other places of the world. The only way to safeguard against this in the future is to prevent any sort of government which could eventually lead to this. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was himself supposed to be a constitutional monarch according to the law but we saw how long that lasted.
Another important note is to take a look at who would fill the role of this potential "constitutional monarch." Reza Pahlavi has been very vocal in supporting opposition to the government. But we do not hear him saying he wants this government replaced by a democracy. He always says that Iran needs "some sort of secular democratic system." The vagueness is troubling but for you naysayers there is an even better quote from an interview he did with the Associated Press today. The interview was about the current crisis in Iran and when asked about whether his intention was to bring back the monarchy to Iran he said, "I carry on my shoulders the historic weight of an institution that I may potentially represent." Someone who would head a largely ceremonial role should not be feeling "historic weight" on his shoulders. Especially, since this system has not even been reinstated yet. Reza Pahlavi is based out in Maryland (just outside Washington DC) and he is known to be very close to the group of politicos known as "neo-cons." Furthermore, his deep associations with Israel and in particular the Israel lobby is no secret. He has spoken at events sponsored by groups such as AIPAC (look it up if you don't know). Someone with these types of associations could very easily be subverted and manipulated by a country like the US into taking full power in this so-called constitutional monarchy.
Iran needs a secular democracy, not a king. The economy of the country needs to be opened up. And the country could industrialize rapidly with its very large young population and a potential reduction of sanctions. Iran needs to advance into the future and become a modern nation without holding onto outdated politics.

Mirza Kuchak / January 1, 2010 12:44 AM

Agha Irani,

Thanks for your sober and nuanced comment above.

As you said, the best option was the nationalists.

I think that a federal structure, with provincial parliaments deciding their own laws and raising their own taxes, is key to implementing a sustainable democratic model in Iran.

Otherwise, a centralized 'divansalar' state in full control of the nation's finances, coupled with our cultural affinity for despotism and cronyism, will corrupt whatever model of government is adopted, no matter how enlightened it seems on paper.

The parliamentary (ie., constitutional) monarchy which Ardeshir suggests was already tried out. In practice, it devolved into an absolute monarchy, without even needing to revise the constitution!

It is not only the experiment of the past 30 years that failed us. The system before it also failed miserably.

Ali from Tehran / January 1, 2010 1:02 AM

Excellent analysis from Mirza Kuchak.

Ardeshir posits a king as "a symbol of unity."

But in the European countries he mentions as examples, the Monarchy has been preserved in pickled form as an institutional symbol of exalted tradition and conservative social mores, rather than for the sake of unity.

Unity in a modern nation derives from the rights, duties and entitlements of full-fledged citizenship, without regard for ethnicity, lineage or creed.

Ali from Tehran / January 1, 2010 3:02 AM

Reza Pahlavi has a good support base outside and inside Iran.Although I believe our focus should be on Regime change at the present time.The Iranian people can make a decision through a national referendum when all groups have been given a fair chance to present their views.This is a given.Parliamentary monarchy is a valid option and has not been tried in Iran.The fact of the matter is democracy of any kind has not been tried in Iran to date.The Iranian people have never been as ready for democracy and secularism as they are today and thank God for that.May the best man win as in any democratic society.You are absolutely right.God bless.

Giti Farhangnia / January 2, 2010 2:42 AM

Good & well balanced article & a generally healthy debate. There seems however to be a naïve belief amongst some of the contributors that a 'secular' and 'democratic' state would not be tyrannical or oppressive. About the only states with a rigid divide between the secular and religious are the US and France. However in the US, a non-religious Presidential candidate, will never succeed and neither a candidate that is not backed by either the Democratic or Republican party. Only in France is there a rigid seperation between religion & secularism & there would be little chance of a 'religious' candidate ever succeeding in gaining political office. However privately there has always been a close association between some French politicians & the Catholic Church. Every other major 'advanced' country is a product of a marriage between religion & politics. By all readings of the Iranian political situation is that a good proportion of Iranians, if push comes to shove, will support the current system with certain changes that need to be worked out through the interwoven fabric of Iranian politics incorporating the various power brokers both religious & secular & all the shades inbetween, akin to a Persian carpet. Despite the wishes of some fantasists here I cannot imagine the majority of Iranians ever giving up their ADOPTED faith of Islam and in particular Shiaism which is deeply infused with their national self identity and the close association that the ordinary Shi'ites have with the ulama, the religious scholars, who are as demonstrated in recent developments are of two kinds & probably more. But essentially as much as the tyranny is being perpetrated in the name of Islam so is the opposition to it coming from the same source but with greater historical roots within Shia thought and history especially as epitomised by the epic struggle of Imam Hussayn against the tyranny of another Muslim ruler Yazid. Despite all that has gone in the last 6 mths, millions of Iranians turned up for Tasua & Ashura. No monarch & certainly NOT Reza Pahlavi despite a 2,500 Aryan(suspect) lineage can ever get millions out onto the streets & grieving & mourning in such unison and collective grief that is not paralelled in any other faith. It is obvious from this that the ordinary Iranian might become a lapsed Muslim but on the day of Ashura his heart and soul is with Imam Hussayn. I am confident that Iranians will get through the current troubles and the outcome will be positive but it will certainly not be what the monarchist and extreme secularists and religionists desire, majority of Iranians are far too sensible to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

rezvan / January 2, 2010 9:10 PM

What's wrong with a Parliamentary democratic Iran where all Iran's cultures and colors can be represented under a reigning Monarchy that will also uphold 2500 years of Persian civil tradition of governance.

Post Islamic Iran needs to show the world that its heritage was temporarily threatened but never defeated, so never again a sect or group of zealot ideology will dare threaten its existence amongst sovereign nations.

This is a logical and powerful outlook which makes most sense to me.

Majid Patterson / January 3, 2010 2:37 AM


Good try but you did not prove anything in terms of fire before your closing sentence. Just hollow statements. The Islamist's attempts to legitimize the Islamic Republic are void. You, your Hussein and the very system you people try so hard to uphold through deception got the "expired" stamp a while back. The two million you refer to happened to be chanting anti Islamic Republic slogans. Don't you watch Google Video? Internet is great, isn't it? Lies are caught in real time. By the way, the lousy two hundred thousand people you guys threatened and bribed to rally for you proved very embarrassing, weren't they? Internet is great, isn't it? Lies are caught in real time. Those who have the support of the people do not declare victory through rigged elections. The corpse of the Islamic Republic will be buried soon. Keep in touch.
Have you heard the new Islamist's slogan?

Beam me up Hussein


Sorry, nothing personal.

Bacheh Tehran Pars / January 3, 2010 4:11 AM

I enjoy reading your articles. Thanks a lot for all your contributions, not just this article. Please keep up the good work. Don't waste your valuable time by answering stupid comments/questions. This can be very draining.

Kami / January 4, 2010 9:27 AM

Dear Majid Patterson,

You ask: "What's wrong with a Parliamentary democratic Iran where all Iran's cultures and colors can be represented under a reigning Monarchy that will also uphold 2500 years of Persian civil tradition of governance?"

My answer: "Nothing wrong with it at all, provided 'Ali from Tehran' becomes the new Shah. Please rush your campaign contributions via paypal to KingAliTheGreatKnowsBest@LightOfAryans-ScourgeOfArabs.com."

Please hurry. I am late for my 'Cultures & Colors" class.

Ali from Tehran / January 4, 2010 4:47 PM

I also believe that a continuation of monarchy in Iran, although in a democratic parliamentarian or a form of a republic, is an inevitable path for Iran.

This also explains why Iran regime elements of the leadership and their supporters are so fearful of such prospect, because they were not planning for their stay in politics to be so short lived with a daily increasing prospect of a shameful ousting.

Ali from tehran and his friends must be having a lot of fun these days, ha?

Siamak Nafizi / January 4, 2010 6:15 PM

Ali from Tehran wants to be a King.(or Queen?)

I suppose we could get her a Crown from dollarama and let her play tea parties with here friends.:-)

Majid Patterson / January 4, 2010 6:53 PM

Iran's return to a reigning monarchy is an inevitable solution to the reign of terror that these thugs have created in my country since 1979, thanks to their less than bright nationalist, leftist and ex Qajari backers who supported Khomeini and his ring of bandits.

Babak Razavi / January 5, 2010 2:45 AM

According to the mini-Pahlavi posters above, not only are we condemned to regress to a monarchy after the IRI horror flick is over, the only man (apparently women do not qualify) eligible to lord it over us should be the prodigal son of the same guy that went on vacation 30 years ago.

And those of us who cannot see the inevitability of this outcome are just dim-witted nationalist serfs or even Qajar leftovers!

The benefit of my little exchange of posts with the mini-Pahlavis was to show the readership of this page how elitist and reductionist the royalists' views are.

Mission accomplished, I hope.

Ali from Tehran / January 5, 2010 9:36 AM

Ali from Tehran wrote:
>>>>>>>The benefit of my little exchange of posts with the mini-Pahlavis was to show the readership of this page how elitist and reductionist the royalists' views are.
Mission accomplished, I hope.>>>>>>>>>>

Ali, I disagree.

In my view , you actually "helped" the cause of monarchy in Iran (at least in this exchange).

People posted coherent arguments for a continuation of monarchy in Iran, while all you argued was how "you wanted to be a monarch".

Arguments in favor clearly stated:

1-A history of political opposition dysfunction amongst Iranian left, nationalists, marxists, socialist spectrum that lead to their blind support of Khomeini and an Islamic republic which lead to the monarchs making a wise decision to go on a "31 year vacation" allowing you guys to show the world what a wonderful system you were supporting. Lets face it, the Monarchs could have chosen to stay and become (god forbid) dictators who destroyed all political spectrum in Iran, couldn't they? They chose to do otherwise by accepting your like's incessant whines instead.

2-Monarchy of Iran has therefore remained intact (threatened but still intact), alas providing for a coherent structure and a progressive and constructive history up to 1979, that your people can fall back on when this regime is toppled.

3- All political spectrum inside of Iran has been systemically destroyed by the Islamic regime. Also all political left outside of Iran has fallen apart, mainly because their moral compass (USSR) no longer exists. Monarchists are the only cohesive political affiliation that have stayed together for across 2 generations.

A return to monarchy is therefore an inevitable path for Iran and Iranians allowing them to keep their country in one piece while they pick up the pieces and rebuild their democratic institutions.

The End!

Majid Patterson / January 5, 2010 8:51 PM


You incredibly sophisticated arguments convinced me that monarchy is really cool. Your erstwhile buddy, Shahanshah, was definitely not a dictator.

But I suggest we keep the Pahlavis on permanent hiatus and instead resurrect the Zand dynasty from their progeny in Shiraz.

Any problems with that, your royal highness?

Ali from Tehran / January 6, 2010 9:21 AM

Ali wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>But I suggest we keep the Pahlavis on permanent hiatus and instead resurrect the Zand dynasty from their progeny in Shiraz.>>>>>>>>

That may well work. Reza Shah was after all himself from the province of Gilan in the North.

Any Zand'[s Karim Khan of 1795 tribal descendants still alive.? Have they been actively involved in dissent against the Islamic Republic and its state? or were they simply another tribe of paid thugs looking for an opportunity at making a buck by killing their own like?

You do not get it do you Ali?

Majid Patterson / January 7, 2010 3:42 AM

Setting the History straight:

1. Shia Sunni question was not intense then.
2. The high point of conflict arrived when the benovalent claiphate turned into autocracy.
3. The saying is attributed to Imam Sadiq.
4. If it has been a Shia Sunni affair; than Shah was a ritualistic Shia; then why Shariati and Imam Khomeini staged uprising against him. Then why Green movement is revolting against a Shia Wali Faqih; it is because the movement that started with the HOLY BLOOD OF HUSSAIN CAN TAKE INTO ITS FOLD EVERY HUMAN EFFORT FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE.
5. It is a tragedy that is even mentioned by PLO is 1970 document about black September; when Arafat likened the Jordanian army action with that of yazeed forces.
6. In pakistan a pro taliban cleric in Islamabad when necricled by Musharraf army likened his seige with that of Kerbala; a salafi seeking common cause with Imam;

That is what can be called a universal appeal of the Imam.

Naqi Akbar / December 30, 2010 1:24 PM