Many years ago, the Iranian parliament passed a law, that would subscribe HARSH punishment to anyone uttering insults at the grand ayatollah, Khomeini. Khomeini's shrine stands as magnificent as that of a saint! Khomeini's son's are dead, one was killed by Shah, the other by the Islamic republic--or so the rumors have it.
However, Khomeini grandchildren have turned into controversial figures--who perhaps survive under protection by his grandmother, who has threatened to spill the beans of many who are holding high offices today, should harm come to her dissident grandchildren!! But Khomeini's grandchildren are also a subsample of the post-revolutionary generation of now middle aged man and women, turned pragmatic and moderate!
At some point, Hossein (picture) called for a US overthrow of the Islamic regime! He fled to Iraq and spoke against IRI, then went to the US and was embraced by neoconservatives, before he suddenly and safely returned to Iran.
In 2004, Zahra Eshraghi (picture), Khomeini's grand daughter who is a feminist and human rights activist was declared unfit to run for parliament.
In 2008, Ali Eshraghi (right picture), another one of Khomeini's grandchildren was barred from election. (Apparently because he shaves and smokes!)
Hassan Khomeini (picture below, next to the chimp#2), who has joined hundreds of protesters in defense of freedom of speech, has been lashing out against the massive disqualification of the reformist candidate and warning against militarization of politics and politicization of military!!
Sean Penn met Hassan in Tehran :
As he approached, I was immediately taken with him. There was a striking twinkle in this man's eyes. He was younger than me by perhaps a decade. But looking in his smiling face, I wouldn't have put it past him that he might read my mind. He had a nearly ginger-colored beard, light skin and eyes, and the black turban of a Seyed. He greeted me first, then my companions, and asked us to sit. We were told that while he understands some English, he would prefer to speak in Farsi and be translated.
He had been told that I had gone to the Friday prayers, so he began the interview by asking my feelings about that. I told him that while the sea of belief in Islam had been impressive, that the use of seductive rage in the chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" are taken quite literally by mothers and fathers in the United States. I said that it seemed to me a highly destructive and inaccurate representation of the country I had come to learn about. Hassan listened with kind interest. His eyes didn't leave me as the translator made clear my statement. He uttered a very brief sentence in Farsi. He said, "Then we should change it." I found myself very moved when he spoke about tolerance for other religions. He said, "The purpose of multiple religions is for each to complete the other," and that "therefore, they are not only to be tolerated, but embraced." This, from the closest living male descendant of the Ayatollah, who had declared a death fatwa upon writer Salman Rushdie. And I believed him. Yet he cautioned me upon further questioning about the definition of terrorism. "What is the yardstick" he asked, "that defines Iran as a terrorist-supporting nation, yet dismisses such a claim against Israel?" And I supposed that his question could be asked about the United States as well.
In 2006, Hossein stated:
"My grandfather's revolution has devoured its children and has strayed from its course. I lived through the revolution, and it called for freedom and democracy - but it persecuted its leaders. For example [Ayatollah Mahmoud] Taleqani, who was frequently imprisoned in the days of the Shah, and after the revolution was harshly persecuted by [the regime] for denouncing violations of the law. He consequently [had to] go into hiding, while grieving and protesting. He protested against the establishment of the revolutionary committees that ruled in an arbitrary and disorganized [manner], and against the persecution of his family...
"The revolution rocked the foundations of society, which had [previously] been conservative and had rejected freedom. The revolution prepared society to accept democracy and freedom. Thanks to the revolution, all sectors of [the Iranian] society, from the educated class to the peasants and the women, are now able to accept [the notion of] freedom and have become politically aware."
In an interview with New York Times, Zahra Eshraghi criticized the forced dress code in Iran:
"I'm sorry to say that the chador was forced on women," she said over tea and cakes in her upscale apartment decorated in ornate furniture in northern Tehran. "Forced, in government buildings, in the school my daughter attends. This garment that was traditional Iranian dress was turned into a symbol of revolution. People have lost their respect for it. I only wear it because of my family status."
Those are the words of a rebel. Ayatollah Khomeini called the chador the "the flag of the revolution," and early in the revolution of 1979 encouraged all women to wear it. Eventually, all women were forced to wear garments that cover their heads and hide the shape of their bodies.
Ms. Eshraghi's frankness is emblematic of the changes today in Iran, where the values and promises of the revolution have given way to an intense, even dangerous debate about whether religion has a place in politics and society.
As a member of the ayatollah's family, Ms. Eshraghi is expected to embrace the trappings of the revolution and the Islamic Republic that followed. Nothing symbolizes the revolution more than the ankle-length black chador that covers all but a woman's face.
But the attitude toward the chador in Iran today has become so negative that some merchants, particularly in northern Tehran, which is more secular, Westernized and wealthy than the rest of the city, refuse to serve "chadori," as chador-wearing women are called. Chadori who do not want to expose themselves to insults avoid the new food court in Tehran that serves tacos and pizza but no traditional Persian food.
"I was in a shop, and I wanted to buy a pair of pants, and the owner wouldn't sell them to me because I was in a chador," Ms. Eshraghi said. "We have only ourselves to blame. People are not happy with the establishment, and the chador has become its symbol."
Pale-eyed, with perfectly manicured eyebrows and slightly frosted hair, Ms. Eshraghi said she had always covered her hair in public, at least with a scarf, because of the dictates of Islam. She fought colleagues at the Interior Ministry, where she promotes women's issues, when they tried to force her to wear more modest dress and dark colors underneath her chador. Behind closed doors, she wears fitted pantsuits that do not conceal her full figure.
"I told them it was not anybody's business what I wear under the chador," she said.