By Abdol Hamid Sheybani Original, un-edited article on
Jan 30, 2002
Written for edited here by permission of the author.

“The Iranian” of 26 October 2001 has published an article by Naghmeh Sohrabi posing some thoughtful questions relating to His Majesty Reza Pahlavi the second. These same questions may have passed through the minds of our younger generation who have less experience of the cut- throat world of politics.

I will try and help to raise these questions and answer them. More detailed answers can be found here.

1- “He (His majesty Reza Pahlavi) looked so ordinary, why so many people began crying the minute he opened his mouth.”

Answer – If Ms. Sohrabi takes a mirror and looks at herself, all she would see is a head, body, hands and legs, which looks so ordinary. But behind this façade there are several personalities, one’s real personality, the personality one wants to present oneself as and the personality as others see.

Those who cry when His Majesty appears on the podium are visualizing the personality of the heir to the throne of Iranian Shahanshahi. For them His Majesty in exile represents their national culture being dislocated by lies, deceit, betrayal and malevolent intention of those Iranians greedy for power and those foreigners greedy for the natural resources of our country. There would also be some that were crying for joy. The joy to see there is still a glimmer of hope for Iran and Iranian’s to once again be one of the most respectable countries in the world.

2 – “Despite the fact that he (His Majesty) has come across people as a balanced, democracy loving, educated and completely viable leader, why alarmingly they consider him as an alternative to the current regime in Iran.”

Answer – Because the majority of the political groups who came forward to contest the leadership of the Islamic Republic were the same people who had their hands in creating the mass hysteria which led to the overthrow of the Shah. People do not enter their hand in a snake nest twice. As a result, not many people found them credible enough to be followed.

Social credibility does not fall from the sky. It does not come over night. Therefore people have found no alternative to leadership but the traditionally accepted credibility of the heir to the throne.

3 –“Why when he (His Majesty) presents his background, does he not mention the reason for living in Egypt, Morocco and the U.S.? Is he (His Majesty) denying the revolution, its legitimacy or feels ashamed?”

Answer – When the reason is obvious why should it be stated? Has His Majesty ever denied the revolution. His Majesties father, the Shahanshah Aryamehr, made a famous speech in 1978 saying, “I have heard the voice of your revolution”. If one cares to take a look at a Farsi dictionary, the meaning for revolution (enghelab) is given as “fetneh va shuresh”. That is why His Majesty refers to it as a catastrophe. I prefer the word "accident" myself. Islam did not come to Iran with Khomeini. During the Pahlavi dynasty all our laws were Islamic. Trade laws, marriage and divorce laws and inheritance laws etc. were all Islamic. Foreign trade law was suggested by Moddarres the prominent clergy of the time. Khomeini introduced a new “bedaat” to the Islam religion of “Valayate Faghi” that would have condemned him to death in any Islamic court. If anyone is to be ashamed of mentioning the revolution it is to be those who accepted the leadership of Khomeini without knowing his intention and program.

At this point it should be noted that the title “Aryamehr” was suggested by UNESCO as appreciation of His Majesty’s effort at the promotion of education that started before 1953 and continued to the very last day. The Iranian Parliament approved it later on.

4 –“Why His Majesty has not established a charity, foundation or scholarship.”

Answer – Only political bias could be the reason to hide the existence of the Pahlavi Foundation, the educational scholarships and all the charitable work that it did. It may be worth remembering that on one occasion the Molla Nassreddin believed the false rumor that he himself had manufactured. It seems that the people who manufactured a $$ billions of wealth for the Pahlavi Dynasty in foreign banks have believed it and are still looking to find it to benefit from it despite the fact that by manufacturing and spreading this type of rumors without any proof, they undermined themselves.

5 – “Why His Majesty exults to high heaven those same people who ousted the Pahlavi’s?”

Answer – Because His Majesty knows that the majority of Iranians are honest, decent and kind. They are simple people who were cheated. Their anxiety’s with regards to modernization were misled into a mass hysteria. They expressed regret about what happened. They are pressurized through terror. They deserve to be treated with dignity like a human being.

6 –“Why he (His Majesty) wants to lead the movement against the Islamic Republic? Is it because of his name and lineage or it is based on merit, achievement and qualifications.”

Answer – Because people ask of His Majesty to do so. People ask of His Majesty because traditionally he symbolizes Iranian national culture and we have rallied behind our kings after each and every national defeat. 

7- Finally the main question: “His royal Lowness, why should we go from one aghazadeh system to another?”

Answer – Had she asked this question from a social psychologist, she would have been referred to several chapters on how a society and its leadership takes shape. She could also be given long lectures on the Platonic dream world, which by the way, is the tool used by politicians who want to get to power.

Human beings have a tendency to consider themselves as equal to everybody else and desire to be treated like everybody else. Lawmakers have accepted the principal of equality in the court of law. In the practical world when work is to be done by more than one person, even in a play situation by children who start the play as equals, after a while, the formation of leadership and followers is noticeable. A more elaborate form of this is the hierarchy of large administrations with the division of labor and authority. The largest form of this is a society.

In other words, creating “aghazadeh” is a human social behavior. Take a look at the U.S., a democratic society. “Kennedy aghaszadeh” follows a Kennedy. “Bush aghazadeh” follows a Bush. The U.S. statistics show that once a family comes to power it stays powerful for many generations.

Individuals have the choice of being their own “aghazadeh” which means creating a sub-culture, or select the “aghazadeh” they want to follow: an “aghazadeh” with a crown, inspiring pride, dignity and motives to turn THIS world into paradise (our Iranian national culture) or an Arab worshipping “aghazadeh” having an “amameh” inspiring “ria va tazvir” through “safsateh” and “avaamfaribi”, beliefs that cannot be tested scientifically, and motives to live in a tomb and wait for the promised Houri's in paradise.

I hope my answers here were helpful. When Ms. Sohrabi concludes that we do not live in a binary world, with only two choices available, and that we should be more imaginative in building a new progressive political system, she takes the words straight out of my mouth. I preferred Ralph Nader in the last US elections. He had all the attributes one would expect of a wise and progressive mind, with highly intelligent followers. As it happened only 3% of the public seemed to be smart enough to hear what he was saying. The rest went for the boring old choices of X or Y. But in a democratic society, the views of this 3% will eventually percolate into mainstream thought process, simply because it is sincere and right.

The events of 1979 have taught us many things. One of which is that the likes of Ms. Sohrabi are the warts of Iranian society and Khatami and the Islamic Republic is the very best they have to offer us. They are neither right or sincere. We have also learnt that they have to be tolerated, but marginalized. Fooled once by intellectual talk of “new”, “progressive” systems by those who show no sympathy for the well being of all those who have perished and are suffering, is one thing. Fooled twice is another.

Additional detailed replies here.