Khomeini revered as Iran's revolution hits 30
Iran marks the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic revolution on Tuesday.
(Page 2 of 3)
He also liked to play with his great-grandchildren games such as "Maman-Bazi," the Persian equivalent of playing house.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Her grandfather would "certainly" be disappointed with the current social restrictions, says Eshraghi, who is a strong advocate for women's rights and married to a prominent reformist politician, the brother of former President Mohammad Khatami. "One of the main things in [Khomeini's] speeches was freedom."
As head of the opposition Freedom Movement of Iran, he has over the years been jailed and subject to numerous court charges.
"People are still loyal to the revolution [but] they object to the performance of the authorities," says Mr. Yazdi. Limits on free speech, the press, and protests are "unacceptable" violations of Iran's Constitution, which explicitly permits such action, he says.
"Definitely people supported Khomeini; they responded to his call for revolution," says Yazdi. "I still have great respect for him…. In his private life he was a pious man [so] I separate his personal private life – his character – with that of his political stands, particularly after the revolution."
He relates that he brought news to Khomeini in November 1979 that militant students had overrun the US Embassy. Khomeini's first reaction was to "go and kick them out," says Yazdi. But 48 hours later the ayatollah publicly supported the hostage-takers, who held 52 American diplomats for 444 days – and wrecked chances of US-Iran rapprochement for decades.
"He was very sensitive to the public opinion, to the masses," says Yazdi. "That is a problem that I had with him. It is not a proper consideration, whatever the masses want, then you follow."
Brutal methods justified
Yazdi says he also took up the issue of the extent of executions of former regime members and opponents. "Many people were objecting," he says. "In one of my private talks with Khomeini I brought up the issue, and he argued with me that 'No, for the revolution to succeed and remain, sometimes it is needed … to kill someone. The opponent[s]: Don't give them a chance. If you give them a chance, they will destroy us.' Well, in some point, maybe he's right."
Indeed, Iran's revolution put that into practice, reaching far afield to track down enemies.
Dawud Salahuddin, a black American convert to Islam who was born David Belfield and worked security at Iran's Embassy in Washington, was asked to kill a shah-era diplomat and dissident Ali Akbar Tabatabaie.
In July 1980, disguised as a postman in Bethesda, Md., he did so.
By the spring of 1981, Mr. Salahuddin was in Tehran – where he has lived ever since – and met with Khomeini for 20 to 25 minutes. He also saw him preach at the Jamaran prayer hall several times and was impressed.