February 17, 2005

Sound Like Anyone We Know Of?

From Reading Lolita In Tehran:

The university was going through many rapid changes in those days, and bouts between the radical and Muslim students became more frequent and more apparent. "How is it that you have sat idle and allowed a handful of Communists to take control of the university?" Khomeini reprimanded a group of Muslim students. "Are you less than them? Challenge them, argue with them, stand up to them and express yourselves."

He went on to tell a story, as he so often did - a parable of sorts. Khomeini had asked a leading political cleric, Modaress, what he should do when an official in his town decided to call his two dogs Sheikh and Seyyed, a clear insult to clerics. Modaress's advice, according to Khomeini, had been brief and to the point: "Kill him." Khomeini concluded by quoting Modaress: "You hit first and let others complain. Don't be the victim, and don't complain."

Poison like that has a way of spreading, as Dave Neiwert knows very well. From later in Reading..., an anecdote from the time of the Iran-Iraq war when Iraqi shells were falling in Iranian cities:

This was a ritual: after the bombings, these emissaries of death would prevent any sign of mourning or protest. When two of my cousins were killed by the Islamic regime, some of my relatives who were now on the side of the government called my uncle to congratulate him on the death of his son and daughter-in-law.

Posted by natasha at February 17, 2005 10:35 PM | Entertainment | Technorati links |

In 1953, Khomeini and his superiors (Ayatollah Abolqassim Kashani) were supporters of the coup d'etat that ousted PM Muhammad Mossadeqh. The break with the royal dictatorship came in 1961, when the Shah--partly influenced by the urgings of US Pres. Kennedy--began land reforms and the enfranchisment of women.

As in Latin America, the clergy in Iran usually backed the landlords.

The Shah's land reform "White Revolution" was to prove a sham, and his elections were a joke, but his secularizing influences continued to outrage the clergy.

Posted by: James R MacLean at February 18, 2005 11:01 AM