Former Iranian queen says Khatami should learn from
By SALAH NASRAWI
July 30, 1999, CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Iran 's former empress has advice
for the troubled Iranian president, drawn from lessons learned after her
late husband was toppled by Islamic revolutionaries 20 years ago. (Related photo)
"There is no real reform without broad political participation,"
says Farah Pahlavi, widow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami should deliver rather than just promise
reforms, Farah said in an interview with The Associated Press while in
Egypt to mark the 19th anniversary of her husband's death. The shah died
in Egypt at age 60, 1 1/2 years after leaving Iran .
Farah compared recent student protests in Iran to the rallies that led
to her husband's overthrow in 1979. The shah could have saved his monarchy
by allowing more political freedoms in Iran , the former queen said Wednesday,
admitting that her husband made many mistakes during 38 years of rule.
His biggest errors, she said, were to overlook political participation
and ignore human rights abuses by his security forces during his quest
"If there was more political participation of parties and groups
and a better dialogue between Parliament and different factions, maybe
this would not have happened," she said, referring to the revolution
that installed the Islamic theocracy.
Khatami should avoid making these mistakes "by giving people what
"I believe that under Mr. Khatami there was some relative opening,
but more in words than in deeds because either he cannot or he doesn't
have the power to do so," she said.
The recent wave of protests began July 8 when students supporting Khatami
rallied peacefully against the closure of a reformist newspaper by hard-liners.
Police and hard-line vigilantes stormed a Tehran University dormitory
to quell the demonstrations, sparking a political crisis that has since
threatened Khatami's presidency.
Khatami has largely relied on pro-reform students and intellectuals
during his two-year power struggle with hard-liners, who control the security
apparatus and vital government institutions.
The hard-liners have blamed exiled opposition groups, including monarchists,
of inciting the students.
An Iranian New Year message from Farah, published in a liberal Iranian
daily, caused an uproar among hard-liners in Iran and prompted the closure
of the paper, Zan.
But Farah, who keeps abreast of the situation by listening daily to
the news and reading e-mail from supporters, denied that her family played
any role in the recent unrest.
Her husband became king in 1941 after his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi,
abdicated under British pressure. The couple left Iran on Jan. 16, 1979,
as riots engulfed the country.
They wandered from one retreat to another - Egypt, Morocco, the Bahamas,
Mexico, the United States and Panama - unable to find a friendly host.
After his death, Farah decided never to remarry because "there
was nobody who could have replaced him," she said.
"And even if somebody could, it was never in my head. I didn't
want to," she said.
Farah, 59, lives in France and the United States. She has four children;
the eldest, Reza, is a pretender to his father's throne.