Thursday, February 12, 2009

30 years ago ...

I am lazy to look at the Iranian calendar. Today must be the anniversary of the revolution. Marclord had congratulated Iran. I couldn't say thank you on behalf of Iran. So I decided to write here.

In Iran, they celebrate it as the "Victory" of revolution. I dare say I have not known even a single human being in my entourage, and even away from my entourage who feels celebratory about this "22 Bahman" (bahman is the name of the second month of winter, remember, our calendar is perfectly solar).

For many Iranians, the 'Victory of the Revolution' is a defeat. Either of a life style; or of a dream.

Those who fought for this revolution were the first to be killed or exiled from Iran. They were killed either in the prisons of the Islamic Republic; or in the war fields. The rest went on self exile. Those who were rich, managed to build happy Western lives. Those who were not, those who hung to their idealism, continued to live in a bubble, in a nostalgia for a great democracy to come, someday, to this land of Iran, which we all love and take pride in, no matter how much we hate its Monarchist or Mullahrcist governments.

I have never felt happy on 22 Bahman; on the day of "Victory". In school, they tried to indoctrinate us. Nationally, they tried to make this into a bigger festival than our New Year (Spring Equinox). They failed. All the fun fairs, all the holidays, all the festivals of 22 Bahman cannot make it a real "people's celebration" because it is NOT a people's celebration. It is a government celebration. A government that is not composed of the "true" revolutionaries, but of the fake ones, of the opportunist ones. The ones whose "revolutionariness" appears in their dirty rough looks. The corrupt impostors!

How can I celebrate? Shortly after this victory, my dad came home in tears. "They executed Lieutenant X! He was fasting! He didn't break his fast! How can these call themselves Muslims?" ... and then he cried.

How can I celebrate? Shortly after this "Victory", I spent days and nights awake listening to my aunt who screamed every time the sound of execution guns was heard; after clinging from her husbands legs for days to save their 18 years old daughter from the "revolutionary court"?

How can I celebrate? My parents were driven out of their works to be replaced by thugs and whores, whose qualifications, besides LYING, included ability to work with dirty beards and wearing black veils. My dad was threatened because he stood against the looters who, in the name of Islam, were going to rob the Governor's Palace. My mom was "cleansed" out of the system because she refused to take these so-called revolutionaries serious.

How can I celebrate? My husband, whose life was on the line when fighting against the Shah, withdrew himself from this "revolutionary movement" when he realized the "victors" were those who had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REVOLUTION?

How can I celebrate? The man who cashed the prize of the revolution (because the westerners decided coalition with clergy was more beneficial than with nationalists) was set to fall in many traps that the neocons were setting in front of his narrow vision of the history!

How can I celebrate?

Memories of revolution for me are dark ones!

I will never celebrate what happened 30 years ago. But, I will celebrate the fact that what happened 30 years ago is what has made me who I am today!
I celebrate the fact that the Islamic Revolution made me denounce Religion!
I celebrate the fact that the Islamic Revolution made me confront the hypocrisies of Islam (and any religion for that matter)!
I celebrate the fact that the isolationist policies of America made Iran strong!
I celebrate the fact that the Shah was driven out, so that people who didn't care as much about their westernized "looks" could actualize the great blue prints that he had laid for the great future of that country of ours!

I remember the day of the "Victory"!

My dad, my brave sweet dad, the man of the people, took me out to "see" ... tires were burning ... some people were pulling down the Statue of the Shah off of the Statue of the Horse of the Shah! Something in the memory of that day makes my stomach sick. something about that victory was ugly. Something about it didn't make sense; even though I had grown up in a house that thought "The Shah was to lay in a grave he had dug for himself."

With that victorious day, I, my family, and almost everyone I knew got a REAL TASTE of what a "dictatorship" was like!

30 years later; I am standing up for my country! Still, however, I feel that 30 years ago, a great revolution was hijacked ...

sorry Marclord ... On 22 Bahman, offer me your sympathy; and maybe a promise to keep your government as far as you can from my country, be it in enemy gear or in friend's cloak ... Because of your country, something that COULD have been beautiful has turned into something that is far uglier than it needs to be ... I shall never forget who most benefited from the post-revolutionary "Down With USA" ... America's beloved Reagan!


MarcLord said...

You have made me cry, thank you, and thank you again. I only sense what your family went through, it is what Solon the Lawgiver in Plutarch's "Lives" strove to ward off, extremely difficult to do, with that peasant desire for revenge and being held down so long, the lowest common denominator comes viciously through. I fear it it is coming to my country, I feel it.

I don't want to celebrate thugs. I just don't want my country ruling yours, attacking yours, tormenting yours, and that's what it was doing with the Shah. It was our greed and unfairness which is the true source of your family's tragedy, and your pain. I know that it's so hard to write about these things but you've started again and for that I am grateful. Let it out. Keep letting it out.

Something inside tells me that like Persepolis, telling your story will be instrumental in letting Iran become what it can, to help it get beyond. It is a beautiful country, a beautiful people, and you are living proof of that. There is a god, there is a chance which is better now than it has been in 30 years, and it is my prayer that you and your husband and family will be able to go back without fear yet in your lifetimes.

Tell your story. Tell me of when your remarkable wise and brave father took you out to see what was happening. Just tell.

Pedestrian said...

I think I will always be at a disadvantage because I never actually SAW Iran under the shah. All I get is different narratives from vastly different people - and of course, they each describe a different sort of country to me.

All I know is that the same people who used to work on my grandfather's lands now own half of that land - and not through theft or injustice... They deserve every inch of it. And he can't help but admit that. They are VERY grateful to this revolution and I've come across a lot of these people in Khuzestan. Somehow, I doubt they are in any sort of majority, or can speak for an entire nation that has lost so much in the past 30 years, but they do exist. Like you, I know of no one within the closest proximity to my entourage who every feels the least bit celebratory during this time of year ... But somehow, I think there are those out there who feel differently.

I read your narrative, and have heard many like yours. But I've also hear those who HATE this system with all their heart and have lost everything they had to it, but always mention that the Shah was much, much worse. Who do I believe?

No one. I just listen ... for now.

I believe we compare revolutions to … revolutions. We don’t compare revolutions to anything else. We study them in the light of uprising, upheaval, ideology, chaos and bloodshed ... nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, the results of the revolution were extremely off-course from what was promised. But what revolution defies that norm? Yes, many innocent people were killed by the hands of the revolutionaries, but in which revolution hasn’t that happened?

Those people who actually believed this one could be any different or believed in a "dream" are also hypocrites/liars or simply deranged.

All I know is that history is much more rational then we give it credit for. But somehow, it manages to surprise us still every single time ...

Naj said...


for someone who has not lived it; don;t you think this statement:

"Those people who actually believed this one could be any different or believed in a "dream" are also hypocrites/liars or simply deranged. "

is somewhat judgemental (and maybe even naive?!)

Actually: what the hell do you mean?!

I am glad you acknowledge your youth, but for a young person, gee you are too sure of your handle on what "hypocrisy" is ...

I am sure i am misunderstanding something, coz you are generally a wise gal ;)

Sophia said...

A very moving post.

Naj said...


I challenge you to speak to the man who is now owning half of your grand father's land to tell you if he celebrates 22 Bahman!

I also invite you to ask him if it has been easy for him to achieve what he has. Ask him which strings he has had to pull, which asses he has had to kiss.

Also, take a survey of how many farms/lands/orchards/factories were DESTROYED because of lack of management! And also, do look around some of the richest families of Iran and see how many of them are "invited back" to rebuild the business that was confiscated OUT of them, only to be given back to them a few years ago!

The major disaster of this revolution is that it has MARGINALIZED "experts' and specialists!

Unless you pretend to a certain idiology, you CANNOT contribute to Iran!

My father has been "revitalizing" dead lands for ALL of his life. He was building roads before revolution by money given BY AMERICANS for "development". He is now building similar roads out of his own meager fortunes. And he loves this freaking country of ours enough to have never left it. But he has to put up with assholes who do not know their own asses from their own heads!

My beef is that the country's RUN BY not only corrupt people, but also incompetent ones! to rob a nation out of its competent forces is a GREAT loss!

And if you tell me that "real talent" is rewarded in Iran, I will laugh! Real talent is rewarded either by 'risking' controversy; or by conforming to a certain "mode"!

Look at U of T? How many Sharif alumni do you have?!

What the hell are they doing here?
Why are the brains running away from Iran?
Why are our journalists imprisoned? Why are they tortured?
Why did they kill Foroohar's?

What is this dream that is SO hypocritical? To expect people who love Iran run Iran is hypocritical?
To expect people who love Iran be its urban planners (rather than having some backmountain villager at the helm) is hypocritical?

These revolutionary 'idiots' are responsible for Bam Citadel's collapse; going on with its 'prettification', touristization, while experts were PLEADING with them to NOT do whatever stupid surface work they were doing.

They made the citadel to look so pretty; but when the earthquake came, a 1000 years old monument did not withstand the SUPERFICIAL BEAUTIFICATION of the revolutionary "renovator".

Now this story of Bam is a FACT!

Go ahead and metaphorize it!

And tell me what is so "DERANGED" about having wished people who LOVE this country RUN IT!

30 years ago is tatooed in my memory with one second:

Khomeini being interviewed on bord of the Air France flight that was bringing him to Tehran ...

"Ayatollah, after 15 years, now that you are returning to Iran, what do you feel?"

"HUCHI" (accented vrsion of Hich Chi, meaning "NOTHING")


But no, Khomeini cared about "Islam" not Iran!

It's only now that these populist fools like Ahmadinejad seek their refuge in brand of "Iran" ...

I won't stop watching them; and I will not trust them until they have gained it! Sorry!

Pedestrian said...

Naj, the Iran you describe today is all that I have seen. I have almost NO argument to any of it - your father's endeavors sounds so very similar to my grandfather's (LOL, mine is a civil engineer who never left Khuzestan, even during the war because he believed even if Iraq doesn't occupy that region, the mullahs will, which they did)... you yourself sound quite like my dad (although he is not this eloquent) ... When you speak of the farmlands and orchards that were DESTROYED since the revolution ... I have lived among those ruins. I've seen how the once vibrant farmlands of Dezful have been left dry and completely destitute.

And this particular man I spoke of lost two sons in the war - so I am sure we can both guess where the necessary partybazi may have arisen. But he is "happy" and content with what the "revolution" brought him. And I think there are a few of them around ...

I realize that the words I used were very strong - but I stand by my argument that those who actually believed the result of this particular revolution would be any different - weren't thinking straight. Or, at least that's how it seems to me from this vantage point. What came to be, the bloodshed, the turmoil, the chaos, ... was so typical of so many other revolutions all around the world. What made them think this would be any different?

What sparks me most about this particular revolution is its lack of ability to create anything original or beauteous ... even on its own terms. You love your religion? Great. Make a musical masterpiece out of it that the entire world will applaud. You live by your war and your martyrs that you have so exclusively confiscated ... fine, write one poem, one novel that will capture the world's imagination - they are just not able to. Even Khomeini's shrine is a bad replica of the one in Mashad ... JEYSUS!!!!!! Can't they come up with ANYTHING original??!!

That being said, THIS - all the things you describe - is the only Iran I have ever known. I can't reminisce about a time & place when things were different ...

Naj said...


thank you!


And I applaud your vantage point now. You are the reason why Iran will never have another revolution; and I cannot be happier about that.

The revolution of 30 years ago WAS necessary, but It didn't need to be this BLOODY! Those who began it were not interested in making in into a blood bath. Also, it happened in continuation of a historical pretext (constitutional revolution at the end of the century). Sadly, in both cases, Mullahrcy derailed it!

These people who are running Iran now are "not" original BECAUSE they are not authentic! The authentic ones are/were original (take Makhmalbaf for instance! Or Tahere Saffar Zadeh! Or that other poet whose name I cannot remember right now. Or Chamran! Or even people like Hashemis ...)

They are wasting money. But, they will slowly learn manners. We have civilized far more savage invaders before; with time, this Ardeshir will become another Sassanid ;)

Gail said...

Dearest Naj-
I am moved to tears by your shared truth in this powerful and provoking post. I cannot imagine your rage at such injustices.

I have no comparison really - I can tell you some of your feelings are similar to mine as I experienced the birth of the Civil Rights Movement and still many are not free. Not even close. People rose up and were killed in their fight for freedom.

I admire your strength of purpose and wish for you moments of peace amidst the chaos that still binds you and those you love.


jmsjoin said...

You celebrate good Naj and what made you, you. That is as it should be. I had no idea Iran was split like that!

It bothered me to hear Moderate Mohammud Khatami attacked by stick wielding crowd on the 30th Anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

That is not promising nor is the fact that President Obama still insists on no nuclear abilities for Iran!

Ahmadinejad said he is ready for talks only if Obama's changes were dramatic. Well after 30 years talking is a dramatic change. That is a start but it could also be an end.

This is a golden opportunity that I am afraid will be squandered as we already know neither side will change the policies that created this environment!

Anonymous said...

A great piece of writing, Naj, a revealing one, a memorable one.

I read this morning that America was concerned by the ongoing world recession fearing it would 'upset its strategic interests.'

How much pain and death and destruction has been caused around the world by America's strategic interests?

Getting rid of America and Israel is a top priority.

nunya said...


I'm sorry for the pain this caused you. I'm glad to read your blog. I even enjoy our banter, the times we disagree. I always learn :)

Did you happen to see this article in the LA Times?

Dispatch from Iran
After 30 years, talk shifts from revolution to democracy
Behrouz Mehri, AFP/Getty Images
Images of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini loom over the capital Tehran as Iranians prepared to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution he led against Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
In rural Iran, as agrarian-centered life erodes and attitudes toward government change, some wonder what the Islamic Revolution brought them, especially as they see some sections prospering.
By Borzou Daragahi
February 10, 2009
Reporting from Absard, Iran -- Four friends gather in a basement eatery...,0,1874192.story

Naj said...

Dear Gail, Jim, David and Nunya

Thank you!

We are all part of the same history. those who have abused me and my country, have been lurking for their opportunity to abuse you ... The evil of neo-conservatism, zionism and capitalism is now going to consume America as well. I hope Americans will take the bold action of bring, at least the Bushco to trial, and then take a good deep look at how to join the rest of the world, to really save everyone, themselves included!

Nunya, I will look them up. No I haven't seen any of them. And you are one of my oldest blog buddies. I always enjoy your company. With sisters, I am a real bitch! (Pedestrian must giggle now :) )

By the way, Jim, Iranians are united in being Iranian, but always divided in liking their governments ... and that is just great, because it keeps us vigilant and alert. It is hard to fool an Iranian with propaganda.

Don't take the stick waving crowds too serious. But for peace's sake, I really don't think Iran needs a "moderate" president now! An "apparently" hardliner one will be more effective in keeping these hooligans in check! Thugs know each other's language!

Unknown said...

Great post, Naj. I can feel and understand your pain. America is on the threshold of feeling pain like that ------- revolution or not.

Naj said...

Brother Tim,

And I think it will not be the first time that a revolution in America will have been misappropriated!

nunya said...

Naj, you make me laugh out loud! Yes, we are really tough on our sisters aren't we?

We will see better days, we hung in here this long together, eh?

Happy Valentines Day, may you and yours have wonderful one :)

David said...

Hi Naj,

Thanks for visiting my blog recently (no, I rarely dress so formally these days ;) ). I have not been very active in the blogosphere for a while now. But, maybe I should change that. :)

Your memories of the revolution seem very similar to what Marjan Satrapi described in the movie Persepolis. I suppose that her experience and yours is very similar for millions of Iranians.

I heard that Khatami was going to run for President again. I hope he wins. I know that the President of Iran doesn't have much real power, but I think that he and Obama might be able to work together to bring some improvements to the relationship between countries. I hope it can happen!

Naj said...

Hi David, good to see you.

Yes Marjane Satrapi's story is very very similar to mine.

I am not sure it is shared by millions of Iranians. I suspect people who were religious, or people of Bazar have a very different narrative than we do.

Frank Partisan said...

I thought that was a very good post.

The Iranian Revolution was started leaderless. It was an authentic revolution from below. It was taken over by elements who were supporters of the Shah, who knew his time had come. Together with the CIA and the Stalinists, the mullahs were put into power.

See this.

Naj said...

Hi Renegade,

As far as I can tell, Iran's revolution was NOT a worker's revolution. It was an "intellectual" revolution. Some of those leading intellectuals were Marxist (of different flavors) some were Religious. The "cause" of workers was promoted by the "university students" who were the major actors in the revolution, and who were the first to be alienated by closure of university to implement "cultural revolution".

The workers did go on strike, yes! But the revolution was NOT really a bottom-up event! And Khomeini took on the leadership of it because religion was what the masses could most easily 'believe'!!!

goatman said...

Leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well. Our hostages were held for no apparent reason; the point was made and the job was done days after the takeover -- Carter never would have attacked and we ended up with Reagan, a true a@@hole (thought that trees produced carbon dioxide and that missles could be shot down with other missles from space -- a true cowboy.)
Maybe it is time for another change in each of our countries; and this time the revolution will not be televised!

billie said...

hiya naj- this post is timely. i won't take away from it by adding any to it. your truth is part of changing people's ideas and minds. thank you for continuing to humanize a proud people who could have been our allies had we, the people, not been indoctrinated to believe differently. namaste.

Utah Savage said...

I promise I'll come back and read this post. But I just gave you an award and I want you to come and get it. It is awards season and our awards come with the obligation to pass it on. So that's the real fun in our awards season. So come my fierce friend and pick up your prize.

Naj said...

Pen Name,

Can you stop your random rampage against my friends and tone down your fundamentalism?

If you so insist, I have made a post just for you; in which I am asking you to explain to me why young journalists are being TORTURED by the wonderful brave Dr-Ahmadinejad-appointed Torturers of the "great" Islamic Republic?

Once you have answered that, I may feel inclined to post your other rampant comments!

Bill said...


Thank you for your heart felt words. To many have forgotten what took place after the revolution, namely the great betrayal of the left once the fascists had power. And, yes I hold the US responsible for a large part of it because of what my nation did to start this chain of events. For that I am deeply sorry and offer my sincere apologies. Now I can only say that the vast majority of Americans are rooting for you and the noble people of Iran to achieve the freedom they so deserve. All the best to you and may your dream of free Iran come soon!


p.s. My friends mom from Tehran told me recently "don't they get it? All this compulsory religion and associated laws are not driving people towards religion but away from it."

Bill said...


Thank you for your heart felt words. To many have forgotten what took place after the revolution, namely the great betrayal of the left once the fascists had power. And, yes I hold the US responsible for a large part of it because of what my nation did to start this chain of events. For that I am deeply sorry and offer my sincere apologies. Now I can only say that the vast majority of Americans are rooting for you and the noble people of Iran to achieve the freedom they so deserve. All the best to you and may your dream of free Iran come soon!


p.s. My friends mom from Tehran told me recently "don't they get it? All this compulsory religion and associated laws are not driving people towards religion but away from it."