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Ali Reza's Death and a Diaspora Divided


09 Jan 2011 19:0283 Comments
408.jpg'Beloved prince' or 'son of a traitor'? Turning tragedy into iconography.

[ opinion ] If the expat Iranian community can glean one lesson from the 2009 presidential elections, it is that they are divided about their aspirations for the future of Iran.

Immediately after the results of the elections were announced, many Iranians dug out of their closets any item of a greenish hue and attended local rallies in support of the Green Movement. While others dusted off their old lion-and-sun flags and attended Green rallies stubbornly waving their banners in support of the Pahlavi monarchy.

Anyone lucky, or misfortunate, enough to attend one of these rallies could witness the comedy, and tragedy, unfold before their eyes.

The Greens accused the monarchists of capitalizing on the democratic aspirations of Iran's youth by waving their flags at pro-reform demonstrations. The monarchists accused the Greens of being blind to the reality that Iran's government is beyond reform. When words didn't suffice, men and women cursed, punched, and even spat at each other in order to convey the depth of their convictions.

It seemed Iranian expats believed that if they didn't rain contempt on their opposition and endeavor to tear down the other side's banners, it would somehow jeopardize the future of their homeland. That's certainly how they acted -- as if the urgency of the moment demanded incivility.

The suicide of the late Shah's youngest son, Ali Reza Pahlavi, on January 4, 2011, was another reminder that expat Iranians are always just one tragic event away from shedding their polite demeanors full of Persian niceties and dishing out insults at their ideological adversaries. This time, though, the lesson learned (or learned again) is that the Iranian expat community is divided not only about the future, but about the past, as well.

Within hours of the news breaking that the 44-year-old Pahlavi had killed himself with a gunshot to the head in his Boston brownstone, many Iranian expats unzipped their old baggage and proudly put it on full display, albeit this time mostly via the Internet.

No doubt, the Pahlavi dynasty conjures many memories for Iranians outside of the homeland. No matter how the dynasty is described in any given circumstance, that description is sure to offend one or another group. For many, the name Pahlavi or the phrase zaman'e shah (the time of the Shah) recalls an era when Iran was on its way to becoming a Western, modernized country, one not loathed in America and Western Europe. Pictures of a smiling Shah at ease with his family adorned many Western publications and Iranians could easily acquire visas to almost anywhere in the world (if they could afford to travel, that is) and students were welcomed in droves to study in the United States.

For this group, the sorrow and tears were perhaps not only for Ali Reza Pahlavi but also for themselves, the lives they left behind, and the lives they could have had, were it not for the Revolution that tore them from their homeland.

There are others, however, for whom the good ol' days weren't quite so good. For them, the dynasty signifies a privileged family's unencumbered access to Iran's national treasury and the constant fear that SAVAK agents would come knocking at the door, all while the gap between rich and poor grew deeper as many of the Shah's economic policies backfired. Many in this group facilitated the downfall of the Shah but for various reasons were unable to live with the Revolution's aftermath, and thus they doubly blamed the Shah, both for his regime and the one that followed.

To be fair, many of these still sympathized with the pain felt by the Shah's widow for having lost a second child to depression and suicide. Others advocated respect for the dead, regardless of who the father was. Some, though, reprimanded the official site of Reza Pahlavi, the Shah's eldest son, for not taking the opportunity to highlight the struggles of those who suffer from depression and instead relating Ali Reza's death to the political situation in Iran (though in subsequent statements Reza did discuss his younger brother's psychological struggles).

Then, of course, there was that asinine bunch who wondered how the owner of a Porsche could be so depressed as to kill himself, a group surely comprising those who managed to fail Psych 101 as sophomores.

Sadly, we can be sure that this event will not be the last to jolt the Iranian expat community into staking out opposing sides. However, perhaps we can use this moment to learn an altogether different lesson.

Iran will certainly continue to remain very close to the hearts of the expat community. But we are not necessarily a diaspora any longer, as a friend recently pointed out to me. Regardless of the government in Iran, the vast majority of us will never return there permanently. We have developed lives outside of our homeland and we are planted firmly in our new countries. Many of us have married outside of the race to spouses who hardly speak the tongue. And regardless of how many Saturday school Persian classes each successive generation of children are forced to attend, the result will inevitably be that with great focus our children may squeeze out a salaam or hale shoma before they are old enough to decide that they'd rather spend their Saturdays playing basketball than learning some language only their grandparents speak.

It's time that the Iranian expat community moves on past this political limbo once and for all and finally sheds the ghosts of the past. Perhaps one day we can remark the passing of someone like Ali Reza Pahlavi as the death neither of a "beloved Prince" nor the "son of a traitor," but rather mourn the passing of an Iranian, like millions of others living outside the mother country.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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Very true

Shirinbano / January 9, 2011 8:17 PM

Perhaps like most young Iranians I didn't know Alireza pahlavi as much as I should however, in all the years I have never heard anyone refer to his father as a traitor.I am sure he was a dictator and many argue Iran of that era was not ready for democracy as we know it, but a traitor?
Mr. Karimi I believe you have gone too far just to prove a point or two.

Parvaneh / January 9, 2011 8:43 PM

How defeatist.

Pak / January 9, 2011 8:53 PM

Thank you Parvaneh.Traitors are those who promised the glory of heaven to Iranians and delivered the current hell.We must unite to save our country and we are in a far better position today than the early years.We are Iranians first before they can divide us using a color or false information.Islamic Republic and its Western backers are our enemies.

Rezazadeh / January 9, 2011 9:58 PM

Mr. Karami you are out of touch, I agree with the comments made above. You represent the old guard, and clearly your article has been designed as more of a divisive tool rather than a article to unite Iranians. As an Iranian in his 20s I feel sorry for you. I can assure you that the Iranian youth does not share your bitterness.

Hossein Aslan / January 9, 2011 10:12 PM

Thank you Mr. Karami, for wrting such a fair, unbiased and excellent article. You show you have a very good understanding of the Iranian community abroad. Kudos, and keep on writing.

Mohsen / January 9, 2011 10:30 PM

Mr. Karimi's views are shallow, and only his own perspective on how thing ought to be, and not the reality and the individual experience on the ground. However, if you want to change things in Iran, you must become part of its populace fabric, and live in Iran where you can make a difference. People who live in Iran deserve the government they have in place. A government only represents the masses; as the masses grow individually, so does their government. All the talks about democratic and individual rights, continues to ignore the responsibilities and obligation that are the foundation of a democratic society.

Good luck with only talks....

Reza / January 9, 2011 10:36 PM

"your article has been designed as more of a divisive tool rather than a article to unite Iranians."
"I can assure you that the Iranian youths does not share your bitterness."

I couldn't say it better.I feel sorry for you Mr. Karimi.I for one am more determined today to get to know the Pahlavis than I ever was in my life.I think your time is up Mr. Karimi.It is the uncompromising attitude of people like you that has brought Iran to the brink of destruction.You should seek retirement and ask for forgiveness for what you did to us.

Azadeh / January 9, 2011 11:05 PM

Agree with most of the comments above, this article has little to no value, I sometimes wonder why TB publishes such dribble?

Farzan / January 9, 2011 11:16 PM

Dear Mr KARAMI, i did find your article very interesting. I think one point you have made in your article which is 100% correct is the last bit

"We have developed lives outside of our homeland and we are..." and it goes on "...the result will inevitably be that with great focus our children may squeeze out a salaam or hale shoma before they are old enough to decide that they'd rather spend their Saturdays playing basketball than learning some language only their grandparents speak..."

This very much correct, I know so many now who has now got childern with none Iranians, however much these kids are proud of their background and standby their farther / mother they are lost to Iran. They have a diffrent life and can't relate to Iran as it is seen today. They will not speak the languge and will not even spend any time in Iran. Your point with this article is so correct, it is time that we all put our diffrence apart and work for a commen cause, a Democratic elected parlment which represent what the Iranian people want and needs.

Thank you

Arjang / January 9, 2011 11:20 PM

I couldn't find a"tips" box so I'm gonna say it here, a plane eb route from tehran to urumia crashed today killing around half the passengers. [Thanks for this. I put it up earlier on Twitter and Facebook. We'll have a press roundup soon. Ed.]


12th Imam / January 9, 2011 11:49 PM

A very balanced and carefully considered article.
Each aspect of the sensibilities of diaspora members were chronicled in a way that anyone should be able to have empathy for.

Realistic portrayal of the lives that have resettled and must go on without losing some sense of where they came from.

jeannette hanna / January 10, 2011 12:35 AM

Glad to be of service seeing as how I'm from urumia

12th Imam / January 10, 2011 12:53 AM


The Shah was referred to as a traitor by various groups for the 53 coup. This is not a name I created, nor is it a name I use personally to refer to Mohammad Reza Shah but it exists and has been used.

Hossein Aslan, Azadeh, Reza:

I was born around the time of the Revolution and left Iran as a child, so to assume that I represent the old guard or that I am responsible for what is happening in Iran today or that I should ask for forgiveness is very strange to me.

My article is intended solely to address the need to work together in our new countries to enhance our lives here despite the political differences we've brought from the old country. Nothing more. If you find that message offensive, or inaccurate, then I respect your opinion.

Arash Karami / January 10, 2011 1:13 AM

Another tragedy for Iranians.

How can you people call this nonsense fair and true? This is nothing but a pile of garbage out of touch with reality. Why can't we help Iranians from the outside? If it wasn't for Iranians on the outside many of their voices would never be heard. The world would never know what is truly happening to Iranians. Our people are oppressed, their voices suppressed and the West only cares about its own interests. Don't allow these characters divide us. Speak up. Air your views and demand justice for our people. I make a point of writing to my congressman at least once a month. Perhaps if it wasn’t for me he couldn’t even point to Iran on the world’s map, but at least I try. If you can e-mail your friends you can e-mail your congressman and senator. It does make a differense and they do respond to you.I have three kids and they all speak Farsi. My wife and I devoted a little time. It wasn’t easy but we cared. That is all. YES,YOU CAN.

Ardalan / January 10, 2011 1:28 AM

I think Mr. Karimi's article is on point. I'm looking at some of these comments posted what I call romantic royalists and it appears that you are 1: loyal to your memorties and 2:incapable of even attempting an objective interpretation of the past. This is undestandable but let me say that these petty attacks, looking at single phrases of an article with no regard to the whole, is a symptomatic indication of how toxic our community is. Fore, you are just as detrimental to Iranian progress (abroad and at home) as the mullahs. And why is it that every Iranian thinks they are an expert or political scientist? It's this mentality that just because you're educated in one field, you are then by default an expert in another field, in this case the politics/history of Iran.

fair_and_balanced / January 10, 2011 1:33 AM

Thank you Mr. Arash Karimi for trying to Unite us.

The negative or emotional comments fail to understand the article's thesis and points. Emotions do not address facts.

Persoanl attacks and bi classy is now becoming the trade mark of monarchists. Truly sad state.

Ali (UCLA) / January 10, 2011 1:55 AM

Because various groups called him a traitor you must call him one too? After 31 years we know who the traitors are as correctly mentioned by others here.If I call Ali Reza's father a traitor or put him down for having a Porche I will be closer to my fellow Iranians? He loved his country and his people.He had a humble living. Why didn't you make a point of that?
People don't know how old you are Mr. Karami.They only respond to your thoughts and let me tell you they do come across out dated.Iranians are doing a lot better than a lot of other nationalities.What is wrong with our living? Do we have our moments of disagreements? So do Republicans and Democrats.Welcome to the human race Mr. Karami.

Thank you 12th...,
I wish I could exchange their lives for many of the leaders of the Islamic Republic. It would be a better world for sure.

H. Kashani / January 10, 2011 1:55 AM

Dear Iranian community,

Don't you know the rules of engagement by now?

1- you may not address the writer.
2- you may not question his thoughts.
3- you may not question anything offensive, specially about monarchy.
4- you must focus on the overall picture. No nitpicking at single phrases allowed.
5- you may not disagree as you are automatically labeled royalist or monarchist and even a zionist.
8- you are never right. Don't even try.
9- you may not get emotional since you are never factual.

and number 10- leave your shoes at the front door.

Rules_of_engagement / January 10, 2011 2:40 AM

Arash Karami: Your comment is appreciated more than the article itself. Those who refer to the shah as a "traitor" had no objective but to use the accusation to hide their own intended "treason"; as the history of the past 32 years gave us the opportunity of getting to see them in action and where they wanted to take the country once the "traitor" was out of the way. A few points are worth mentioning:

(1) The pre-1979 fashionable curse of Khomeini-Shariati-Rajavi and all other like "traitors" are still upon us and we still judge the Shah based on our hearsay from them. That fashionable curse is very hard to break from, and the experiences of the past 32 years have had little effect on freeing us from the tribal and emotional hatred of the shah without regard to realities of iran of 70's and large number of fraudsters posing as intellectuals (Bazargan, Yazdi, Ghotbzadeh, Bani-sadr, ...) who criticized the shah while planning and planting seeds of a far worse kind of oppression and dictatorship in their minds. How many of those cursed individuals do you know who are willing to replace their hatred with an unbiased reading of few independent history books regarding that era to "refresh" their understanding of the history that they so emotionally hang on to?

(2) The failure of GM leaders is in total lack of understanding that dictators (even comparatively mild ones like the shah) do not yield an inch unless they really have to, and that the islamic republic should go in its entirety if we want a new "plan" rather than gaming the People and wasting time.

(3) Failure of the people (specially iranian authors) is in realization that although expats have very little in common with a small-herd Baluchi tribesman, yet we all have a lot in common if we narrow down our demands to a very few aspirations. Those demands should only divide iranians in two (rather than many) camps:

(a) various flavors of islamic republic supporters (ranging from Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi to Mousavi and Karrubi, from Kadivar and Soroush to Ganji -- all who have vested interests in islamic republic and its ideology): this group should be flatly rejected and a-man-a-vote-and-no-more should be forced upon them.

(b) All others who aspire to have a progressive democratic system focusing on legal and social justice. I assure you that irrespective of if this "clean" system is a Monarchy or a Republic (to be decided by the people) will be able to get approval of some 90% of iranians and maybe as much as 99% of the dreaded Monarchists. In other words, the characteristics of end-result form of government maybe what most of us share, yet differences in achieving those goals are what you are focusing on which is only material in the short run and will lose its significance in the long run.

Finally it is true that Alireza Pahlavi was no more than simply "an iranian", but you cannot claim that he was as typical as many of us. He had his own added share of trouble: one who once roamed the Palaces in Tehran, now had to face life alone and lonely in an apartment, with the added weight of a lost identity. You probably know that although Pahlavis were accused of being criminals and thieves, they (reza shah and M. R. Shah) had a strong sense of nationalism, one that mullas and "intellectuals" of pre-revolution often opposed and ridiculed, let it be renewal of Ferdowsi's Mausoleum or Celebrations in Shiraz. As shahbanu Farah once said in an interview some time ago that when some people see them on streets, they still point to them and yell: you murderers, you thieves, you torturers... That is not what we other iranians face every day and is what would place likes of Alireza in a somewhat different category with added pressures, mixed with love of his country, yet distrust of his venomous countrymen.

بیا تا گل بر افشانیم و می در ساغر اندازیم
فلک را سخت بشکافیم و "طرحی نو" در اندازیم

Shams / January 10, 2011 2:43 AM

It appears that many of the Iranian royalists are taking offense to the article correctly claiming that many Iranians consider the Shah to be a traitor. That's a fact not a point of debate.

However, what is debatable is whether shah's actions truly meet the definition of being a traitor...so let's take a brief look at history:

The reason 95%+ of Iranians in 1978-1979 rose up to overthrow shah's regime was due to their correct understanding that had it not been because of a foreign power (the US) sponsoring a military coup, shah's monarchy would have come to its logical end in 1953...26 years before the events that drove him to escape from his own people for the second time.

For me what drove home the magnitude of US's control over Shah was when I read that in the summer of 1978 shah had contacted the US ambassador to Iran to ask him if that was a good time for him to take his summer vacation!!!

I don't know if being installed by a foreign power and spending 26 years taking orders from that foreign power meet the definition of a traitor or not.

However, it's one thing to use lies and misrepresentations to throw off an enemy but it's a completely different thing for us to fool ourselves into believing those lies!

Bahman_Azad / January 10, 2011 2:46 AM

Dear Mr. Karimi, thank you for your effort, but your views offer no value to make it even interesting. Poor try, at best.

Sheri / January 10, 2011 2:48 AM

He is way off in describing the shah as a traitor, those who were triators were the ones that helped the khomenei come into power. when we needed reform the went for revolution when we need revolution they talk about reform.

Those that bought the islamic republic cant face teh facts that the blood of the people of iran are on their hands but they still want to blame the shah.

he did as good as he could and made misktakes like clinton, bush, obama, blaiar ect.

ramtin / January 10, 2011 3:09 AM

I dont think this author knows that the flag does not represent the pahlavi family. they have their own flag which is blue.

my question is how come the MKO also use that flag if it represents the Pahlavis? MKOs hate Pahlavis more then anyone inlcuding IRI.

Please answer that. It shows you are not well versred in Iran issues.

Shanin Salehi / January 10, 2011 3:26 AM

Mr. Karimi, I take issue with your statement about subsequent generations learning Persian. Irrespective of whether or not they go to Iran (I am US born and raised and not been to Iran since infancy), there is certainly room for Iranian-Americans to absorb Iranian culture, and honestly, to reject it would be un-American. US society is one that increasingly learning to appreciate the benefits of being bicultural and multilingual. Even 5th generation Americans (such as Irish or Italian-Americans) often boast of their ethnic heritage.

Even ignoring the fact that knowing Persian is exceptionally useful even in the current unfortunate state of relations between the US and Iran, knowing who you are and where you come from is a testament to your character. For those of us born and/or raised here, yes, we are first and foremost Americans, but we come from a rich culture and have a rich language and history.

If you take the perspective that Iran's civilization is 5,000 years old, a comparatively insignificant political event that transpired 32 years ago should not cause us to completely derail ourselves from that trajectory and lose millenia of identity that has been ingrained in us. Yes, we must assimilate, but turning our backs to who we are and considering our language "useless" is distasteful, lacking in character, and for those reasons distinctly un-American.

Anonymous / January 10, 2011 3:46 AM

Dear Bahman_Azad,

I suspect that you're throwing around the term traitor merely to score some cheap political points; your actual accusations are quite baseless.

I am definitely not a royalist; I am not old enough to have experienced life under the Shah. But I am educated enough to know my history, unlike you, who seems to think that Iran was miraculously a democracy 100 years ago, and the evils foreign powers came and ruined everything by imposing the Pahlavis on us.

If you look back to the rise of the Pahlavis, you will see how initially foreign troops were parading on Iranian soil as if it was another backwater of Africa. The previous dynasty had basically disintegrated, but not before selling off Iran's assets to the West like a prostitute. Reza Shah rose to power in this turmoil and managed to impose some sort of order. He was also a visionary.

Given the dynamics of the world at that time, Reza Shah was good, but not good enough, and after Iran was invaded again by foreign forces, he was thrown out and replaced by his son.

Obviously, this does not read well if it is viewed from a modern context. Yet importantly, this was happening at a time when Iran was nothing more than an illiterate shit-hole held together by string. But fast-forward half a century, and Iran was one of the fastest-growing, strongest and richest nations in the world, with burgeoning domestic industries, scientific output and culture. None of this was possible without foreign help; modernisation does not happen at the click of a finger.

Yes - Iran did not evolve politically, which eventually led to the revolution. This is undeniable from a historical perspective. But we must also have the collective strength to criticise the revolution, because it needs criticism. Revolutions signify a popular demand for change, but they do not automatically signify improvement/replacement of good over evil.

In fact, the true traitors are the revolutionaries. The Pahlavis never came to power promising political progress, but the revolutionaries caused massive bloodshed and upheaval in the promise of political progress, and look where that led. They are the traitors, because they stabbed our nation in the back and stole our wealth. Over 95% of the people put their faith in these men, but the people got spat on, trampled on, beaten, raped, tortured and executed. The revolutionaries are the real traitors.

Iranians are a proud people, but this pride often blurs our judgement. We are too proud to admit that we were incapable of modernising our own country last century without foreign help, because we had no economic, scientific or intellectual capacity to do so ourselves. We are too proud to admit that we often jump head first into unknown waters, and as a result become politically erratic. We are too proud to admit that we are only just becoming politically mature, which has finally led to a non-violent, intelligent and mature opposition movement. But obviously we are not quite politically mature enough, as evident by this statement of yours:

"That's a fact not a point of debate."

Pak / January 10, 2011 3:51 AM

Shahin: You are right, many do not know that Lion-and-Sun has been an iranian symbol for millenniums. However, opposing lion-and-sun flag is really not much of an indication of opposition to Pahlavis, but a symbol of opposition to "anything but islamic republic".

The newly born intellectual, Akbar Ganji, got into a verbal fight with those who carried lion-and-sun flag in NY, saying that "we are not here to overthrow the islamic republic [and reject their flag], but to reform it"! That says it all about who haters of the "lion-and-sun" flag.

Shams / January 10, 2011 3:58 AM

Rules of Engagement:

I welcome all comments, whether I am pleased by them or not. I see it as an opportunity to clarify (or re-analyze) some of my positions. If certain readers don't appreciate my responses I can respect that and not engage them in the future.

Ramtin and H. Kashani:

Again, I did not personally refer to Mohammad Reza Shah as a traitor, I stated that others have. This is a fact.

Shanin Salehi:

Indeed, the lion and sun precedes the Pahlavi dynasty, and you are correct that MKO uses it as well. I considered stating that in the article but did not want to come across as being didactic or to be perceived as taking an unnecessary shot at monarchists (given the reaction to this article I see now it wouldn't have made a difference anyway).

Either way, the Pahlavi official site uses the lion and sun and many monarchists use the lion and sun to show support for the Shah so that is why I stated that.

Arash Karami / January 10, 2011 4:08 AM

@ Dear Parvaneh
I agree with your comments most definitely ,Shah was also a dictator but not a traitor, the rulers of our country today are as we all know the real traitors and even worse than that .
What they are doing to our people and our country today is beyond words .
Be omide roozr azadiye vatane azizemoon.

roja / January 10, 2011 4:21 AM

Mr. Karami:

I responded to the reaction of our usual Islamist and leftists friends. It was not intended as a reflection upon you.

Shams & Pak,

Thank you for being you.


Please pick up a few history books and read. You owe it to yourself.

Rules_of_Engagement / January 10, 2011 6:23 AM

Wow...like the rest of the crowd, i didnt like this article, but ...it has done an amazing job of bringing all of us together. This is what i like about us...no matter where we are , or who we are(1st or 2nd genertion) iranians we stand united. Forget the flag....Parvaz ra be khater besepaar parandeh mordanist....remeber the flight, while the bird will die.

Leyla / January 10, 2011 8:42 AM

Dear Mr. Karimi
your article does not point in one clear direction. It seems like you are constantly changing position trying to win everyones heart. Even though shah was called "traitor", you chose to use this word in your article and it conveys your view and the view you are trying to reiterate, so please stand by it and dont blame others who used it first, they may have been wrong. In regard to your last statement and advice for iranina community, they all have left something valuable back home and they care about what happens to and in Iran. If you care enough to listen to your own preach why did you choose to write about this tragedy? why dont you blend in to your new country where you live? Do you feel you cannot attract any native audiance or do you still care about Iran? or like many expats you cannot find you place and position outside Iran in order to move on.

Mike / January 10, 2011 10:44 AM

I don't believe the Palavi's were traitors, I believe they were the victims of history. They were placed in the wrong place at the wrong time. They should have belonged to a more civilized and less envious people. Iranians got what they deserved when they brought Ayatollah Khomeini. They should be grateful for the blessed deliverance of the holy emmam. I don't know why the Pahlavi family still considers itself Iranian or even associates itself with the Iranian people. I know if I was part of this family, I would have turn my back on these people a long time ago. May the Islamic Republic reign for many more years to come and may the thirst for blood of the beloved holy Ayatollah Khomeini be quenched by the blood of many more Iranians for many years to come. Hey as long as we can get some cheap oil in our tanks, I got no problem with that.

Anonymous / January 10, 2011 11:26 AM


Thanks for letting us know where civility lies.Also thank you for letting us know the level of your courage by posting under anonymous.
The cheap oil in your tank is from Saudi Arabia boy, you know, the people who brought you Usama bin Laden? and the blood that was quenched was your people's boy. Sorry about the wake up call.

Enjoy the ride.

Pride of Persia / January 10, 2011 12:04 PM

As long as we Iranians don't know the words and the meanings we are using for describing people and behaviours and as long as all our judgements are based on emotions and not simply and easily facts, though we will suffer and others will come and rule us. The answer to the History shall provide a relation, this relation means that the work and the time of the Pahlavi dynasty shall be compared to all kingdoms and fanatic islamis regimes before and after. B doing so, comparing the numbers of innocent blood and all other important issues which makes a humain life, you will see that the Pahlavi dynasti was chance given by Good.

I am not a monarchist, 32 years old and all I know is based on studies. Up to now, non of the dynasties has provided the country Iran more progress, success and glory into the world and for itself.
I don't care about Modjahedins, Mullahs and other groups as only the country IRAN is the subject to be considered.

A nice and peacefull and Lieless year for all Iranians in- and outsite

amir / January 10, 2011 2:36 PM

If someone is calling SHAH traitor, either they are angry why he left the country and didn't kill his own people or they are same people who feel guilty coming to the streets and destroying the country and handing their life in hand of cleric and bunch of terrorist who are killing our young and old for being Iranian, they are destroying our way of living and culture and everything that we proud of. Frankly who is traitor? Those who looted and killed and destroyed our country or was it SHAH and his father built modern country and built everything that we have now. Compare accomplishment of SHAH in 37 year with IRI accomplishment in 32 year. If you are fare person you will find who the traitor was.
let's be fare and let's live free and let's unite for free and democratic Iran, if Reza Pahlavi is not your choice ask yourself who is that you want and ask them to join hand in hand for free Iran, in free country every idea and every opposition and every party is body of that free country. We need to evolve, enough is enough. Silence is not a solution to our problem and if they don’t hear us they will continue of destroying us. There is no green party or red or blue or any other colour, there is only IRAN and Iranian either would be REZA SHAH OR REPUBLIC OR ANY THING BUT RELIGION OR DICTATORSHIP.

afshin / January 10, 2011 9:02 PM

the elitism within the iranian community is the greatest divider and it's truly disgusting.

maryam irani / January 10, 2011 9:24 PM

H. Kashani:

I forgot to bring up this point in my last comment: I mentioned his Porsche only to criticize those who wanted to in some way make some absurd connection between his Porsche and his state of mind. The type of car an individual drives gives no clue as to whether or not one is less likely or more likely to commit suicide. Furthermore, my article was not a reflection of Ali Reza’s suicide but a reflection on the various reactions to his suicide. If you are interested on a reflection about Ali Reza’s suicide specifically there are about half a dozen articles written solely on this topic in the last week

(first) Anonymous:

There is not a point I disagree with. In fact I have written previous articles in which I have stated that Iranian Americans may eventually follow a similar path as Italian Americans. However, there are not many immigrants who have retained their language once several generations removed. And as you know, our language has been an important aspect of our identity, particularly since the time of Ferdowsi there has been an emphasis on language that is directly tied to identity and history that is very unique. Perhaps I am wrong and you are right in that future generations will share the love of the language with the same passion that this generation does. I certainly do hope so.

This is an article I wrote early last year that somewhat covers some of my thoughts in this regard:


Arash Karami / January 10, 2011 9:30 PM

For me as a person whose memory of childhood of Iran under Shah is vivid and who lived through the transformation of Iran and growing up under Islamic Republic. I was so saddened by alireza's death, simply because His father and grand father despite any human flaws, did great things for Iran. I grew up seeing the fruits of what they did even after the Islamist brutally harmed almost all Iranians
The only people that were not perhaps harmed by this revolution is families and relatives regime officials who themselves can't bear living in Iran.
Alireza seems to have been a very smart young Iranian.

Tara / January 10, 2011 9:30 PM

Also as an individual who is not in favor of monarchy and who grew up in Iran: I must say that those that r against the Shah prefer to delete him and not to mention him or even ignore anything related to Pahlavi. So this huge reaction outside of Iran from diaspora, many of whom recently left Iran, shows that Pahlavi family have had a great potential to play a role in the peaceful transition of Iran towards democracy. Pahlavi's were quite popular in Iran and they will remain popular no matter what....

Anonymous / January 10, 2011 9:36 PM

let's face it Pahlavi's are quite popular inside and outside Iran and people talk about a happy period under Pahlavi's despite their mistakes. If only this family could rid themselves of those flattering monarchist idiots around them, they could play an effective role in unifying a big chunk of diaspora. I hope our new generation reach out to them and use this potential

Anonymous / January 10, 2011 9:42 PM

maryam islami,

Then change your nationality. We called it love of one's country and refusing to give into lies.
In fact you can watch from the side lines the unity of Iranians under their true banner of history and culture. One that will over shadow everything the Islamists and leftist have deceitfully forced fed us in the last 32 years, i.e. Shah vs. Mossadegh game in order to divide and defeat us. We can’t afford to remain silent and watch the destruction of our country. First they remove our identity. Then they will break up our country only to rob our resources. Islamic Republic is the record holder in the number of execution throughout the world. They have distinguished themselves in the field of murder. What happened to the Western calls for human rights of the late 70s? OR the depiction of Khomeini as the new Gandhi. Do they ring a bell? If you can’t see it you are blind. Open your eyes and smell their stench.

Rules_of_engagement / January 10, 2011 10:36 PM

Anonymous / January 10, 2011 9:42 PM

I am a monarchist and I agree with you.It is time for the old guard to step aside and open room for new people with new ideas.This is not limited to the monarchists but should be inclusive of all groups as the future government of Iran will be decided upon by the majority rule and respect for minority.We have one common problem, the Islamic Republic.

If I may add, in all fairness Reza Pahlavi has tried many times to bring Iranians of all political affiliations togther to no avail. Unless we unite on equal terms against the Islamic Republic we will not have a chance to save our country.

Mr. Karami

Thank you.

Kashani / January 10, 2011 11:35 PM

Shahs time was a glorious time for iran. i wish i could have lived during that time and didnt waste my time as i do now under the islamic republic

Anonymous / January 11, 2011 12:37 AM

Kashani, and others,

Our only problem is not IR, but ourselves. IR is the representative of majority of people who live in Iran, and it is, whether you like it or not, the result of our collective cultural experience over the past 2500 years history. If we want to change things in Iran, or as many of you say "save Iran", it's time to take responsibility for our own actions, and start talking about responsibilities and obligations that are the foundation of a democratic society, instead of just wishing for more freedom. In a democratic society the reason you can drive safely through the green light, is because people respect the responsibility of stopping at the red light. To live in a better country, we have to become better people, as individuals, communities, and citizens.

REZA / January 11, 2011 1:29 AM

I have got a Porsche and sometimes happen to go 150 MPH but that never ever had made me depressed. This guy had some issues that could not deal with and took his life. That is all there is to it.

Why Iranian diaspora should make so much fuss a bout it. Let people's private life be their own worry.

Agnostic / January 11, 2011 4:19 AM

Mr. Karimi How Old are You ?

Either Very Young or Simply Ignorant at best about the Diaspora Community you claim to belong to.

I don't know what has been fed to you by your Parents ( former Revolutionaries Perhaps ?) to end up with such a diatribe of a description of the Pahlavis and the Last Shah you call a Traitor. Nor do I think you ever lived in Iran during his era so your knowledge of that period seems quite limited to stereotyped not to say totally inaccurate.

I guess NIAC has much to do with this Anti Pahlavi Propaganda it seems to want to induce in young Iranian Americans particularly in University campuses.

It's time you guys start getting your heads out of the Sand and start doing some homework on an era you clearly have no knowledge about and use some common sense before embarrassing yourselves to ridiculous proportions.




darius kadivar / January 11, 2011 5:02 AM

Mr Arash Karami-
Perhaps you too can use this moment to learn an altogether different lesson about Iran and being an Iranian.
1 - The old lion-and-sun flag waving is in support of the NATION of Iran as this flag is our NATIONAL flag. The imperial flag of Iran is of a different colour and insignia. The Imperial Standards of Iran were the personal standards of the Shāhanshāh, Šahbānū and Crown-Prince of Iran, adopted at the beginning of 1971.
The Imperial standard consisted of a pale-blue field with the flag of Iran in the upper left corner and the Pahlavi coat of arms in the centre. At the top of the coat of arms was the Pahlavi crown, created for the Coronation of Rezā Shāh in 1926. Beneath is was the Imperial motto "Mara dad farmud va Khod Davar Ast" ("Justice He bids me do, as He will judge me" or, alternatively, "He gave me power to command, and He is the judge").
Pale blue was the colour of the Imperial Family.
2- You have used provocative terms to describe and then meekly defended your excesses as a device for pointing out some anomalies and differences among Iranian diaspora without paying much attention to your mistaken and shallow points of view ( which have been pointed out on numerous comments above).
3- Perhaps you could enlighten us more about your comment that " The Shah's economic policies backfired " ! - On whom ? On your parents who were able to educate them selves and then provide you with a decent education and life style?
4- You might not feel or count yourself as a member of Iranian diaspora any longer - but for many others it is a badge of honour and will remain so till we and our children can one day go back to our country free from The rules of a fascist, un-democratic and un-Iranian Arab loving blood soaked Traitor mullahs and their Nazi henchmen.

Bahramerad / January 11, 2011 5:31 AM


I have read your comments several times before. Would you say Germans are genocidal since they murdered millions of Jews? Would you call it their collective experience over the last 2500 years too? Can a nation make some drastic mistakes due to bad leadership? Can the same nation overcome its problems and emerge as a world leader? Grant you Iranians aren't Germans, but Iranians have their own qualities too. We are not just talking. We are learning from each other too. I would not exchange the experiences of the last 32 years with anything. What makes you think we have not changed? Iran needed a transition time. A time to mature. A time to value what it had and what it has lost. What is so abnormal about our experience? It is just an important part of growing up even as a nation. As a matter of fact I am very optimistic about our future.

H. Kashani / January 11, 2011 5:34 AM

What a truly silly piece. I don't know of a single Iranian of the diaspora who, when he/she heard of Ali Reza's death, thought that this was the death of a "traitor's son".

Tehran Bureau is so out of touch with how most Iranians think. A bunch of bitter, left wingers who are still fighting battles from 30 years ago. Your essays/editorials on the Shah and anything related to the Pahlavis are so one-sided and, interestingly, most of your readers have the exact opposite view.

Despite some notable shortcomings, the Pahlavis did much good for Iran and nothing you write can take that away from them.

May Ali Reza rest in peace.

Siamak / January 11, 2011 5:36 AM


Iranians reacted all over the world including Iran. Let's learn to call it the way it really happened and my answer to that is, we are human and it bothers us immensely when it comes to those we care about most. The reaction clearly showed a good number of Iranians do care about them.

Kashani / January 11, 2011 5:46 AM

I'm going back. I'll never leave Iran.

manesh / January 11, 2011 6:09 AM

You could have chosen a less inflammatory title. For those who knew AliReza closely he was a down to earth, kind, intelligent young man who believed monarchy is a thing of the past. He was very homesick and wanted to go home ( Iran). It is so sad that those of us who love Iran and live in Exile are deprived of visiting our homeland.

It is not too late to request editing of your note.
He was just a kid when he left Iran and he never defended his father's past nor advocated return of monarchy to Iran. thanks

I am not a monarchist / January 11, 2011 6:24 AM

D. Kadivar & Bahramerad

It is one thing to insult the article, it is another thing to insult me personally, but to bring one's parents into the discussion is as low class as it gets.

I never "backed down" from the traitor remark. If you read the article carefully you will notice that I said we SHOULD NOT use this word. But the word "khaen" has been used to describe the Shah whether it pleases you or not.

I've answered the flag issue, please refer to my previous comments.

Arash Karami / January 11, 2011 6:27 AM

There goes our freedom.

It is apparent TB has begun its Gestapo tactics to keep track of the posters.This is to protect the left wingers and the likes of Sahimi to carry on with their pro Islamist agenda.This is a reflection of their lack of credibility and fear of truth.The more you squeeze us the more you lose your public support.

We must unite to free our country from the Islamists. [The new comments engine we've switched to is very common, not just on PBS but all over the web. We still allow anonymous comments and we are in no position to ID anyone. Eds & Webmaster]

Iranian community / January 11, 2011 6:30 AM

i find this article quite appropriate and well done,thans mr karami,i think what you actually wanted to say was look forward and be realistic in addressing issues related to our homeland.we all felt the pain of mrs diba ,being a mother,one can only imagine what she must feel,losing two kids at the prime of their lives.
the death of this young man,in my opinion had nothing to do with islamic republic,i am not a supporter of this regime ,make this point clear,many iranians came here after 1979,with just their clothes on their back,and have managed to make a life for themselves here.mental ilness and depression knows no class and age and race and gender.

fay m / January 11, 2011 7:05 AM

Fay moghtader you are improving. I like your revised version of the events.

Just passing by / January 11, 2011 7:32 AM

@I am not a monarchist/January 11, 2011 6:24 AM

A good show on your part. But you are not telling the truth and this is truly a cheap attempt on your part. He would never make such claim out of respect for Iranian people, his brother and his family. That is a decision by the Iranian people alone. You are not dealing with amateurs.

Pahlavan / January 11, 2011 7:49 AM

Mr Arash Karami-

Can you please elaborate on your statement that "
The word "khaen" has been used to describe the Shah " - by whom exactly ?

How did he became a traitor to his country ?
What crime did he perpetrate against the security of his country ?
In which court of law was he convected of this crime?

Just because you or your friend Mr. Sahami say so- does it mean that it is true ?

For God's sake - GROW UP !

Bahramerad / January 11, 2011 3:40 PM


Mr. Sahimi and I are not friends, but I do read every single article he writes. I also read everything Milani, Sadjadpour, Takeyh write as well. In fact, I read various authors from a wide political spectrum as far as the expat community is concerned.

Why are you so angered by the fact that I report SOME called the Shah a traitor? You really never heard anyone refer to the Shah as a traitor? In your entire life?

Also, I said we SHOULD NOT use this word. Why don't you understand that?

In the future when I say we should not call someone a traitor should I instead say "we should not call someone the t-word"? Will this appease you?


Yes, some people on this comments section are united but to what end? Will this unity elect a congressperson, a senator, a governor here in America? Will anything tangible be acquired as a result of this unity?

Arash Karami / January 11, 2011 10:16 PM

@ Arash Karimi

Dear. Dont let these people to get on your nerves. They like you to be a an objective writer of their own past that exalts certain people no matter what , glorify and worship their symbology and ignores the rest of what lead to what and what caused what.

Let them be. That is their trait, they dont care about what you write, if what you write is not going to fit in their imagination of the past.

Be as you are, Objective, relentless and do not get in to the war of words with disgruntled ones. The evidence is out there, you dont need to reexplain it to them, since they are not really asking for explanation but something more like an apology, they are gonna use every single thing that they can find to.

In their way of criticism they wont spare anything, they are gonna drag your family, past, sense of nationality, intelligence curiosity, grasp of politics and history...etc into question. And yet fail to acknowledge any wrong in the past at the start of their argument.


PersianTraveler / January 11, 2011 10:57 PM

"...He would never make such claim out of respect for Iranian people, his brother and his family. That is a decision by the Iranian people alone."

he didn't claim it, if you read what 'I am not a monarchist' said:
"...intelligent young man who BELIEVED monarchy is a thing of the past..."

so he didnt claim it, out of respect, and not to be deemed a traitor like his father

and secondly it is indeed a decision by the iranian people alone, and they have decided that they do NOT want monarchy

which is based on the facts:
1)95-99% of the iranian people joined in the revolution to depose the monarchy regime into the dustbins of history, and it was further proven when 99% of the people overwhelmingly voted for the islamic REPUBLIC and NOT monarchy
2)70% of iran's population is under the age of 30, not having experienced life under monarchy, knowing little and having little interest in monarchy or the royal family, most iranians do not believe in such a form of regime
3)even majority in diaspora are against monarchy, (except for a few former regime supporters and their offsprings in sweden and parts of tehrangeles), the evidence is given in most of the post-election protests by the diaspora who most often rejected the use of the shahanshahi (lion and sun) flag in favour of the green colour (in solidarity with the people of iran and NOT the monarchy). many of the monarchists who initially protested were kicked off of the protests because their monarchist demands were controversial and had few (if any) support

Ray Takeyh / January 12, 2011 1:49 AM

"...many do not know that Lion-and-Sun has been an iranian symbol for millenniums..."

based on the facts, the lion and sun in the flag was not used until 1736 by nader shah afshar in the afsharid dynasty, and even after that the symbol went through several transformations such as sword/no-sword, standing/sitting, and the standard tri-colour flag was not used OFFICIALLY until after the first constitutional revolution when the majlis (parliament) wrote the flag description into the constitution

so no, the lion-and-sun has NOT been an iranian symbol for millenium as you claim, the derafsh-e-kaviani and farvahar have been symbols used longer by the persians than the lion-and-sun


"The Imperial Standards of Iran were the personal standards of the Shāhanshāh, Šahbānū and Crown-Prince of Iran, adopted at the beginning of 1971"

that is not the flag of the monarchy but a flag of the pahlavi dynasty itself, all dynasties after Nader shah's Afsharid dynasty had a flag for the imperial state and a flag for the dynasty representing royal families, the pahlavis were no exception. the issue is not 'wether or not the flag represents the pahlavi dynasty', the issue is 'why have a flag representing the imperial state of iran i.e. having iran with a monarchy'. and based on the facts the flag most definitely represents a monarchy (i.e. lion king, sun queen), so those who wave around a flag in those rallies are most definitely representing sympathy for monarchy if not a return for it, just as how those waving the current flag are most definitely representing sympathy for islam if not the islamic republic.

Sam Sedaei / January 12, 2011 2:41 AM

Thank you very much Ray Takeyh for your response.

Pahlavan e Aziz, I hope one day you get a chance to speak with a few of AliReza's former classmates at the University and at least couple of trustworthy people and who knew him to find out about AliReza's personality and wishes.
This is not the time to attack each other.

I was disappointed to read that Mr. Darius kadivar posted a link to photo and location of a student who he associated with the author of this article. This intimidating mentality reminds me of the books I have read about SAVAK and lack of freedom of speech in Iran prior to 1979 (I was a kid too so what I know is what I have learned from reading history books.) thanks

"I am not a monarchist" / January 12, 2011 4:43 AM

PersianTraveler and others who provided positive and/or constructive feedback:

Thank you.

Arash Karami / January 12, 2011 6:13 AM

@Ray Takeyh

Indeed, he did not claim it.

Thank you for providing the leading percentages since any thinking Iranian can realize now how truthful you people are in your attempt to oppress the Iranians. You people have distinguished yourselves in the last thirty two years. Congratulations are in order.
A little hint: Watch your choice of words and spelling next time. It is a dead give away and rather amateurish on your part.

Act I, part II.

@"I am not a monarchist" January 12, ......

Please do yourself a favor and enroll in an acting school Sir. You display a promising talent in that department. Politics is not your forte I am afraid.

"Thank you very much Ray Takeyh for your response."


You are most welcome.

Pahlavan / January 12, 2011 10:19 AM

I am amazed!!! Go Home anyway you can, cross any border. Study the ways of the founding fathers of the United States. Infiltrate any way possible.
A blind eye can be poked out!!

Anonymous / January 12, 2011 10:26 AM

If you weigh the last 2 Iranian governments and compare them with each other it becomes obvious monarchy has done more for Iran and Iranians than the Islamic government.During the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Iranians peaked in social freedom but lacked political freedom.I lived and worked in Iran for a few years.Iranians lost their social freedoms shortly after Ayatollah returned to Iran and never gained any political freedom.They replaced a secular dictatorship with a religious dictatorship.Millions of Iranians have left Iran unable to live with Islamic brutality.I have read Iran loses over one hundred thousand people each year seeking better lives in other countries.This has been the story of Iran and Iranians for over 30 years.

Greg Kapica / January 12, 2011 2:03 PM

The tragic life of Pahlavi family reminds me of Kennedy family!!!
I did not know alireza and I was bron in 1975, with a little memory of a happy childhood, my memories of Shah time was kind teachers in a kindergarten downtownTehran. Smell of Yass flowers in springs of Tehran. Lots of Banafsheh flowers!!! weird memory. I also see a lot of happy photos in my family album before 1979 and the rest of my life was in Iran under IR, which was a sad story though I tried to get over it....I am amazed why I became sooo sad about Alireza death, I really did not know I was going to be this much sad about this news! as if his destiny is somehow interwined with my destiny and other Iranian,s destiny. As if we are all related!!!!!! I really cannot explain it....

Anonymous / January 12, 2011 5:38 PM

I think this book will provide a good context to the different arguments on this article:


Pak / January 12, 2011 10:31 PM

سکوت پاسخ به ابلهان است

@ so called Pahlavan / January 12, 2011 10:44 PM

Iranians from within Iran and every part of the world have announced their solidarity and are mourning for one of their own and a few have the audacity to deny the outpour by throwing some garbage statistic at us. Saddam Hussein also received 99.99% of the votes and Ahmadinejad the majority of the votes in 2009. What does that tell us?
The message from Iranians is undivided. We do not want the Islamic Republic. We want to go back to our own roots, our own culture. Iranians must decide their own fate not the Barbaric Republic. Your game is over BR. OVER.

Niloofar / January 12, 2011 11:29 PM

@ so called Pahlavan

I can live with that Sir for everyone's sake. So we can conclude you will remain silent. Thank you.

Pahlavan / January 13, 2011 1:33 AM

just wanted to share this beautiful article by Madam
Mehrazngiz Kar about this loss.


IANAM / January 13, 2011 3:12 AM


Milani is not known for his love of monarchy or Pahlavi kings, but what I find most disturbing is the absence of any reference to the responsibility of the opposition leaders in their miscalculated support of Khomeini and the consequent rise of Islamists in Iran as outlined in the biography review.

Both the Shah and Bakhtiar’s appeals to the opposition members for the assumption of a more responsible position fell on deaf ears. A fact conveniently ignored and denied by the likes of Milani, the leftists and obviously the Islamists.

It is this deliberate dishonesty in the last 32 years that has alienated Iranians from them. One can lie to people some time, but never all the time.

Niloofar / January 13, 2011 10:42 AM

This piece reads like a personal reflection on the state of Iran's expats community. Its clear, also comments made to this piece, presumably by 'Iranian expats' proves some of the author's points about the subject which is still divide among the expat community.

Shah Jim / January 13, 2011 12:44 PM

Yank Jim,

Don't you Yanks argue among yourselves? Are Yanks divided? Are the French, Germans and everybody else in the world?

Why do we have to listen to Islamist's trash talk?

Persian4Ever / January 13, 2011 10:15 PM


I actually agree with you. I had no intentions of disrespecting the historical course of Iranian experience; I was just merely stating that it is the fact. I’m also very optimistic about the future, but my point is that the future will also represent the collective knowledge, and experience of the Iranian masses who are part of the populace fabric, not a few individual outside Iran with nostalgic feelings who voice their opinion. Iran is a great country like all others with its special circumstances, and the future will greatly depend on how it deals with the present…

REZA / January 14, 2011 10:41 PM

Mr Reza
be aware that labeling people under one title or the other is actually the culture of Islamic republic, you are one victim of. In fact a wide range of different people with different opinions I found in IRAN to think that Shah of Iran did great service to Iran. In fact an Iran where women had to cover their faces under Qajar. If it was not for Pahlavi today we had faced a Taliban even worse than the current rulers in Iran.
Unfortunately I myself live and lived in Iran and not among the group you want to label. As soon as I have my independent opinion I can be wrongly labelled. This mind set of yours only justifies the current system of Iran.
As a person living in Iran I don't deserve to pay the price of stupidity of others but unfortunately it is the case and it has been the case. Because there is a mass STUPIDITY in our country. A country where masses see Khomeiny in the moon and when i said I did not see it people would question me

Tara / January 15, 2011 6:32 PM

It is also so unfortunate that as soon as you comment your independent idea as an Iranian who spent all her/his life in Iran you are labelled as "EXPATS". This is another type of western and Islamic republic "PROPAGANDA". ENOUGH OF LABELING.

Anonymous / January 15, 2011 6:34 PM

This article is totally distorted !!!!!! That kind of journalism is really scandalous. please read more about history of Iran during the Pahlavi era, but you do not have any felling about Iran and Iranian! you are happy with your new country "US", don't talk about Iran please.

مزدک / January 15, 2011 6:35 PM

Diaspora is not divided. We all have one single objective: Termination of the Islamic Republic.

Reza / January 19, 2011 7:50 PM

Stop your blood libel against Pahlavi's. Any one who is anti-Pahlavi is a traitor to Iran, including you. Over the past 30 years, it has been proven that the accusations against the Pahlavi was fabricated and false. Why do you repeat these false facts? Are you a student of Mr. Milani, the son of billionaire mullahs who continues to promote Mr. Khomeini's anti-Pahlavi rhetoric? Grow up. Shame on NPR for publishing such a grossly inaccurate article. I request that it be withdrawn.

Susan Spencer / January 23, 2011 11:01 AM