Iranian shah's widow marks his 19th death anniversary
By SALAH NASRAWI
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Accompanied by a royal entourage, the former queen
of Iran on Tuesday marked the anniversary of the death of Shah Mohammad
Reza Pahlavi amid Egyptian efforts to reconcile with the Islamic regime
which toppled the monarchy. (Related
Before Farah Pahlavi began her annual pilgrimage to her husband's tomb,
she paid homage to Egypt's late president Anwar Sadat, who gave refuge
to the exiled monarch after he was overthrown in 1979.
At the 18th-century Rifai mosque, Farah, her head covered with a black
scarf, knelt and kissed the shah's white marble tomb as the one-hour ceremony
About fifty exiled royalists, some from as far away as Los Angeles and
San Diego in the United States, traveled to Egypt to share the occasion
with Farah, who lives in Paris and New York.
After laying wreaths on the candle-lit and lily-decorated tomb, the
mourners sang the national anthem from the shah's era, which glorifies
his rule as the golden age of Iran .
Farah has been making the annual journey to her husband's tomb since
the pro-U.S. shah died of cancer July 24, 1980, in Egypt.
"My only wish and hope is that one day we can take him to be buried
in Iran ," Farah told The Associated Press.
Iran 's Islamic government has rejected all attempts to move his grave
to Iran .
Relations between Egypt and Iran deteriorated after Sadat, a staunch
U.S. ally, gave refuge to the shah after he was deposed in the 1979 Islamic
Revolution that installed clerical rule.
Recent media reports have suggested that the two countries are considering
normalization of relations, but efforts to reconcile the two key Muslim
nations seem to be stalling over the name of a street in Tehran, the Iranian
The Iranian government named the street after Khaled al-Islambouli,
the Islamic militant who assassinated Sadat in 1981. Egypt wants the name
of street changed.
In June, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami's chief of staff, Mohammed
Abtahi, indicated that Iran may counter Egypt's demand with the issue of
the late shah's tomb, possibly asking for it to be removed from Cairo.
"If they are real Muslims, which unfortunately over all these years
they showed that they are not ... they cannot ask for that," Farah
In a Persian-carpeted domed annex of the mosque, Farah and her entourage
listened to verses from Koran read by Egyptian clergy.
In a chamber next to the shah's tomb is the grave of King Farouk of
Egypt, whose sister Fawziya was the shah's first wife. The shah had one
daughter with Fawziya, whom he divorced in 1948.
Farah and the shah had two sons and two daughters.
Pahlavi became king in 1941 after his father, Shah Reza Pahlavi, abdicated
under British pressure.
In October 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter reluctantly admitted Pahlavi
to the United States by for cancer treatment.
Carter's decision triggered the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran
and the taking of American hostages by militant students - an event that
led to the severing of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington.sn-tso