Religious Ritual and Political Struggle in an Iranian Village

by Mary Hegland
published in MER102

The villagers of Aliabad do not presume political stability. They were not especially surprised at the fall of the Shah, nor at the demise of the most powerful person in the village, Seyyid Ibn Ali Askari, some months after the Iranian revolution. “One day the saddle is on the horse, the next day the horse is on the saddle,” they said. “Families become scattered. Families come and go. Ezzat va zellat. Honor and ruin.”

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Letter

by
published in MER104

To the Editors: I would like to give a correct version of the interview I had with Fred Halliday in March 1980, published in MERIP Reports 98 (July-August 1981). Our conversation was not recorded. Halliday occasionally took notes, and errors and inaccuracies have therefore crept into the interview as published.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"The Only Serious Obstacle Is Khomeini Himself"

by
published in MER104

I conducted this interview with Manuchehr Hezarkani after his departure from Iran in October 1981. He is a medical doctor trained in France, and has been among the founders of three important Iranian political forces: the Confederation of Iranian Students, which led the opposition in Europe to the Shah in the 1960s and 1970s, the Writers’ Association of Iran, and the National Democratic Front, an independent socialist coalition established immediately after the revolution and driven underground in August 1979 after organizing protests against the imposition of censorship. Since this interview was given, the NDF has officially associated itself with the National Council of Resistance set up by Bani-Sadr and the Mojahedin.

—Fred Halliday

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"We Are Living Between Two Tides"

published in MER104

Shokrallah Paknejad, one of the most prominent and far-sighted of modern Iranian socialists, was executed in Evin prison, Tehran, during December 1981. Although his death was not officially announced, his family was given a number for his grave in the cemetery of Behesht-e Zahra, and the prison authorities confirmed the news early in the following month. His death, like that of the Mojahedin leader Mohammad Reza Saadati, and of the Fedayi (Minority) leader Said Sultanpour, came after Paknejad had spent several months in jail without trial or formal charges. He was held as a political hostage and shot in retaliation for opposition activities.

"All the People Who Are Opposed to Our Solution Must Die"

by
published in MER104

Sadeq Khalkhali is the representative from Qom in the Majles. Although not himself a leading element in the Islamic Republican Party, he has a small following among the extreme right-wing clergy. He wielded considerable influence within the regime, particularly in its formative period, and consistently criticized successive IRP governments as “too soft” toward “counter-revolutionaries.” He was interviewed by an Iranian journalist in the summer of 1980.

Could you tell us when and where you were born, and what kind of Islamic training you have?

I was born in 1926 in Khalkhal, a small town in northwest Iran and I’ve gained the title of Hojjat-ol-Islam.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"We Started to Feel Cold Sweat on Our Brows"

by
published in MER104

Ali Reza Nobari studied mathematics in France and was finishing a Ph.D. in operations research at Stanford University in California when the Iranian revolution occurred. He helped to fund the newspaper Enqelab-e Islami and served as governor of Iran's Central Bank during Bani-Sadr’s presidency. Eric Hooglund and Joe Stork spoke with him in Washington, DC in December 1981.

If you could have seen where the revolution stands now, would you have participated in it three and four years ago?

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"The Americans Played a Disgusting Role"

by
published in MER104

Shahpour Bakhtiar served as prime minister in the last weeks of the Shah’s regime. Since escaping from Iran after February 1979 he has been living in exile. Fred Halliday spoke with him in Paris in August 1981.

Mr. Bakhtiar, what is your estimation of the current strength of the Iranian regime?

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"We Are the Only Real Threat to Khomeini"

by
published in MER104

Masoud Rajavi was the only one of the original leadership of the Mojahedin-e Khalq to escape execution by the Shah. Imprisoned from 1971 until December 1978, he emerged to reorganize the Mojahedin. He ran for president in the election of January 1980 but Khomeini declared him ineligible. He escaped from Iran with former president Bani-Sadr on July 28, 1971. He is the prime minister in Bani-Sadr’s government in exile, and is active in the Council of National Resistance. Fred Halliday interviewed him outside Paris in August 1981.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"I Defeated the Ideology of the Regime"

published in MER104

Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr was elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in January 1980, but was subsequently impeached in June 1981. Fred Halliday interviewed him in France in August 1981, several weeks after he escaped from Iran. He has formed a government in exile, and is part of the Council of National Resistance.

You are living here in France to organize opposition to the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini. But Khomeini still has some popular support, and he is prepared to be more repressive than the Shah ever was. Won’t these differences make it very difficult to oust him?

Year Three of the Iranian Revolution

by Fred Halliday
published in MER104

The third year of the Iranian revolution saw the final breakup of the political coalition that initially brought Khomeini to power, and the emergence in exile of an opposition that groups together many of those who played a part in the overthrow of the monarchical dictatorship. On the basis of evidence available, it would seem that the Khomeini regime has been able, through massive repression already greater than that of the Shah, to contain the opposition forces for the time being. The Islamic forces now in power have apparently gained a second breath after the crises of mid-1981. Appearances may, however, be deceptive and the Iranian revolution could be preparing another one of those sudden convulsions which has marked its agonized course to date.