February 11, 1999
The following are comments from respondents to a survey sent to members of The Iranian mailing on January 30th, 1999. The comments have been posted unedited. Each comment is from a different individual whose name and email has been withheld. For survey results, click here.
(click here for more comments on page 1)
* We have got no power AT ALL
Democracy is a placebo for the stupid masses. It is a utopia preached by North America and Western Europe whereby their democracy and social peace and welfare is pre-conditioned on the ignorance of their people at home and on the misery and conflicts they impose on other countries. Even in the so-called democratic countries we do not have dictatorship of the masses but dictatorship of the law. Then there are those who promote socialism and communism in the name of democracy. They do not want a healthy and peaceful life for all. They want misery for all. And they were the first to emigrate to US the most capitalist country of all. How come they didn't go to Russia and Eastern Block those hypocrites who were suffering from inferiority complexes all the way??? Frankly I do not understand why there should have been a revolution? Why are Iranians so preoccupied with politics and it has become their national past time? What is freedom??? At Shah's time everything was not perfect but it was the best time Iranians had seen in a long time. Those who were religious were free to practise and exhibit it. Those who were gamblers had their casinos, those who were into sports went to ski etc, you could go to beaches, you could celebrate anniversaries and marriages in peace, Iranians had respect all over the world, the minorities like Armenians, Bahais and Jews lived in harmony with the majority, Iranians did not have to hold two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and the standard of living was higher, our language, culture and music was actively promoted in our country etc. What was the Iranian immigrant population outside of Iran at that time? How come the great majority of Iranians were so enthusiastic to return home after finishing their studies abroad? How come the industrial output of Iran in 1978 was twice that of South Korea? Do you know how many large-scale projects were in progress? How would Iran's economy and status look like if there was no revolution? Would Iraq have dared to even look in Iran's direction with territorial ambitions? Now in the US does anybody dare to call into question the establishment and power centers? Does anybody even listen? And if you were to push it too much then..... So you know buddy we have got no power AT ALL. Those big guys at the top will do as they see fit. All we can do is to see that we do not end up becoming their pawns. There are certain economic and geopolitical imperatives which dictate certain agendas. Was it people's revolution or savak's revolution? A coincidence that immediately after the revolution the war with Iraq started? A coincidence that some of the best pilots of the air force were executed at the beginning of the revolution? A coincidence that all of the sophisticated avionic boxes of the F-14s were taken by the Americans before their departure for which we had paid? A coincidence that all the neighboring countries in the middle east have opposing ideologies (acid-buffer strategy, containment policy)? etc. All Iran needs now is stability, actually long-term stability which is conducive to a better situation no matter what is the form of the government. No revolution. No civil strifes. No hardliner vs. moderate. You think we can do it or will they let us?
* When religion & politics mix
The 2 most significant lessons of the 1979 revolution could be summarized below:
- It certaily put an end to monarchy where one single person and his heirs decide the fate of one country.
- When religion gets involved with politics, the most horrific crimes are committed in the name of god. What Europeans went through in middle ages with Church we are [going through at present].
* We need a democratic government
I don't think that the Islamic government is the answer. I believe that religion cannot be the only means to run a country. I think we need a democratic government, whose leaders are open minded, freedom lovers and most of all lovers of Iran. A government cannot rule by terror and suppression. We have seen it fail over and over again throughout history. It's time to really think what is good for Iran and the Iranians. It time to put all prejudices aside and do something good for everybody. We have so much to be proud of. We have so many talents amongst us and most of all we have such love for our country no matter where we are and what we do.
* Stolen away
The driving force behind the revolution was us, the young generation. But it was stolen away from us soon after victory.
* Values of revolution still important
Revolution of 1979 was a very good way of achieiving the people's long wanted freedom and democracy and overthrow a brutal dictator. However, it didn't exactly go to the way that most revolutionaries wanted it. The post-revolutionary regime turned out to be too harsh at times and too fundamentalist, which means it preffered some so-called Islamic values to freedom and democracy. Still, the values of revelution are of great importance and a gradual change of power from the conservatives and theocrats to people and their moderate representatives seems like the best way of preserving those values and also benifitting the Iranian people in both internal and international measures.
* Unite with clear democratic goals
Forget about the roles of Shah or Khomeini in the '79 revolution! Our underdeveloped understanding of democracy, loud and immature political debates, intolerance of groups with different ideas, ... led to the rise of politically-ignorant leaders. We, the Iranian people at large, reaped what we sowed. Our beloved Iran will experience a political, as well as a social, renaissance only after most of us comprehend the universal law of "cause and effect" and unite with clear democratic goals for a bright future, e.g., elect ALL of the government officials, respect freedom of different candidates to run for an office, freedom to practice (or not to practice) any religion,.. With the pace of the current events and the growth of mass media, I am hopeful that Iran's population can mature to these issues within a decade.
* Foolishly supported the revolution
I was one of the people who foolishly supported the revolution. The previous regime was corrupt, no question about it, but are we better off now? I believe that we are much worse off. Unfortunately I think the present government is here to stay, and I don't think that Iran could withstand another revolution anyway.
* Paying for Shah's mistakes
I believe that revolution in Iran had just one leader, and it was Shah. He had enough time to organize the democracy in Iran, but unfortunately he didn't, and now people are paying his mistakes. Under those circumstances the revolution was inevitable and again Khomani and his colleagues stole the outcome of people's movement. I believe still Iran is in transition to democracy, and nobody can stop this sluggish stream. I hope this time changes to be wisely and peacefully, although due to conservatives love for the power and the crimes that they've committed, it doesn't seem.
* No control over our destiny
Whether we are better off with the revolution, time will tell. It certainly doen't look that way after 20 years though. Conterary to what most may think, I believe that the revolution was a neither born or lead by the people. Unfortunately, in countries like ours, we do not have control over our destiny. Regardless of how and why the revolution happened though, I will always be envious of those who lived their teenage and adult lives in the old Iran. The country where you could get a descent education, live a comfortable life, and yet be immersed in the culturally rich environment.
As the child born in the midst of the revolution from parents who supported the revolution, but were disappointed by its result and never returned, I have seen that a revolution can be forseen, but the results can not. My parents wished it had resulted differently, my aunts and uncles wished it had never happened, and the cousins who have grown up amidst the new republic have wished for another revolution to overthrow the current, as grandparents wish for a return to how things were in "zamoone ghadeem." Was it really so long ago?
* Reza Shah & Co
The illegitimate reign of Reza "Gul-door" and his family is as much responsible for the current misfortune of the Iranian nation as is the Islamic Republic. Twenty years later, we are witnessing perhaps the last chance the Iranian nation has in bringing about a true "mashrot-e" and a democratic civil society. Khatami is our last Amir-Kabir, our last Mossadeg, let us not miss the boat this time.
* Headed toward another revolution
Revolutions occur when the political, historical, and sociological forces of a nation combine to create an impetus for change. While the Iranian revolution has made the lives of many Iranians far worse than before the revolution, it was an event that had to happen given the geopolitical context of the era. Similarly, Iran is inexorably headed toward another revolution, perhaps not as dramatic in its arrival, but certainly as dramatic in its effects.
* We need to rise again
In 1977 when I left Iran, the vision to drastic and fundamental changes about to take place were clear. It was obvious the masses will rise. The corruption and oppression of government will lead the public to resort in some kind of uprising and revolution. I was wishful about the revolution making Iran one of the best examples to freedom and strength among modern nations. However revolution happened, clergies took charge of naive masses and took advantage of popular uprising. Now we have oppressive government worse than before, with no freedom, No way out, any futures. We are going back to dark ages, When disagreement with present government is worse than disagreement with Shah's. Now they say "we govern you in the name of God and what we say is word of God or interpreted from word of God," In the meantime we are as always only the subjects. We need to rise again in the name of freedom and humanity to change.
* Things have gone too far
Once the spoilage of the society reaches the degre of corruption demanded to be performed by all and lies, deciet and cheating becomes the only way to get ahead and make ends meet.... specially for more than one or two generations.....things have gone too far... I hope a revolution can help change this one too....so how do we get our social standards of honesty and trust back??
* Restore revolution's democratic goals
Had the united Iranian revolution not been hijacked by one faction, it would have symbolized a truly remarkable occurance in the world's political evolution. No matter who alters the truth of the event afterwards, the revolution was united and almost unaminous across all social, class, and political groups. History has also shown that Afghanistan and Iraq have also paid a high price for a weakened Iran in the region. Here's to hoping that Iran's next 20 years restores the revolution's democratic goals and Iran regains it's strength and stability in the region.
* Politics and religion don't mix
Religion has its place in guiding Iranian society. Politics is not the proper medium for religion. That is because by it's very nature religion is not debatable.
* No looking back? I disagree
I think the oppression of anyone for any reason is wrong. The Ayatollah's regime has oppressed women of all ages, has stifled the expression of public opinion, and has taken away the most fundamental of rights of the citizenry. Women are not "things" or "objects" that belong to men--they are people with opinions, beliefs, and intelligence that men cannot take away from them. The Fundamentalist Islamic government has stripped Iran and its people of their pride, both of themselves as well as as pride in the beauty and charisma of the country itself. I visited Iran as an American woman on several occasions. The people I met were at first surprised that a blue-eyed, blonde American would dare to come into the country, and especially dare to go out shopping alone and speak to the people I met. I made friends all over the place, and found that the citizens of Iran were not violent, not American-haters or any thing of the sort. Instead, they were ashamed, for the most part. They apologized for the chadors, the hostage crisis, and for the reputation of Iranian people as flag burners. The Islamic regime is responsible for this lack of pride in the country. It is responsible for the 20 year delay in cultural exchange, and in the economy and is responsible for the shameful medical profession that causes innocent children and elderly people to suffer. They say there is no looking back: but I disagree. I believe that Iran should look back, and, in doing so, learn the right way to go forward. With the new moderate President, there is hope that the two best countries in the world can overcome the stereotypes and once again engage in a cultural exchange that will enlighten and benefit both sides of the ocean.
* Good revolutions do not have ONE leader
There is not enough choices. For example, "Revolutions are good if those involved stay involved". In our case, the revolution was stolen away from so many different groups and parties and was placed on one man's lap. Good revolutions do not have ONE leader. France and the US are prime examples of it.
* I can not forgive
Personally ,i didn`t take part in revolation because i knew relieges government bring us misaster.I was so young ,but i think i could release many things that old ploticians didn`t release them.I can not forgive whos bring me suffer of relieges dictatory.I have bad times in a foriegn country,because i could not bear situation in Iran anymore.
* Bad but not worse
The Iranian revolution is one of a kind in the modern history. Only the French revolution can be compared to it in the essence of people revolution. Dictatorship and the harsh treatment of the people was the prime force that lead to revolution in Iran, not religion. Although I had and still do not have much trust in clergy rules for many reasons, I can not hide my surprise and praise for the way that Iran has progressed in many aspects under the clergy. Of course, other political regime could have done better, hearsay, but we never had the chance to know for sure. I believe that the best achievement of Iran after the revolution was its independence of foreign authority and influence. This has brought the respect of the whole world to the Iranians. Some of the means and methods were pretty horrible, however, it has achieved its goal. The fact that Iran managed to survive and thrive under boycott and sanctions is another achievement. In this world, only power and tenacious attitudes rule. If you are weak, then you can bet that you will be dictated upon by great powers. Forget this propaganda of human rights and all this jazz that the west constantly preach. They are extremely selective on whom they want to impose their so called progressive ideas upon. The Americans are leaders and pioneers of double standards. They have been supporters of the most brutal regimes, if their interest serves them, hence I have no trust in their ideology and political motives. The worst of the revolution is the initial thrust to export it. Surrounding countries and neighbours have different cultural structures and various social differences from Iran. It was extremely harmful for everybody to have revolutionary ideas being forced on them. In fact it was as bad as the American trying to force their policies on others. The lack of planning and poor management of the economy is still a big handicap in Post revolution Iran. The country has struggled and will do so for many years unless highly educated and trained technocrats start managing it. The clergy can not and will not be able to economically thrive under intense economical pressure, hence the masses suffering. Freedom of expression is another victim of the revolution. However, I can not say that it is worst than the Shah's regime either.
* Out of the frying pan and...
The 79 revolution happened when I wan only 12 years old, so I can't comment on the events that led up to it or whether it was justified or not - at least not from experience. But I will however comment on the outcome. The expression 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' comes to mind. I believe that people genuinely thought they were working towards a better Iran. I don't think many of the persons involved could have imagined that they were putting into power a regime that was so sadistic towards its own people. A regime that would drag the country back into an era so many centuries ago, an era best left in the history books. I wonder if the same people who complained bitterly about freedom under the Pahlavi regime, would dare step outside their house in Iran today and whisper discontent of todays regime. the most amusing thing is that people are saying that things are getting so much better in Iran - I ask, compared to what? Are we comparing to pre revolution times or since? I can imagine that a prisoner left in solitary confinement would see his position as improved if he were to at least share a cell with another inmate - but that doesn't change the fact that he remains a prisoner. One of the major ways the revolution has affected me personnally (apart from having to live away from my own country, and family and friends being scattered into the four corners of the world) is that I prefer not to tell strangers where I come from. Its not that I am ashamed of my origins, or my history, I'm just ashamed of my countries present!
* Learn to be tollerant
As a nation we have to learn to be tollerant & respect each others rigth. It is only then we can understand our problems and learn how to overcome them. May God bless Iran.
* Goals are still achievable
At the time of the revolution I was only a 6 year-old pre-schooler and don't remember much about it. But I grew up in Iran after the revolution for more than 10 years and have experienced, first hand, the consequences of the revolution one of them, loss of my brother in the war with Iraq. So, here are some of my views on this subject: One of the many problems our society faces is that we tend to go to extremes in our choices. We either become absolute secular/anti-religious or extreme religious. We have a difficult time to find a healthy middle ground where everyone in the society can feel at ease. It has usually been one way or the other. I believe if the Shah's system would have given a little more room to the other side, and not pushed for a radical change towards secularism in Iran, they would still have the dynasty. They should have let the people decide for themselves and let the society go through its natural, healthy and continuous change and maturing. Now, the remainders of the monarchy in Iran are suffering the consequences of their mistakes in the past. When you push people to a corner so much, a revolution is inevitable no matter what system is in power. The current system in Iran has a long way to achieve the goals of the revolution that created it, but I believe that those goals are still achievable if we let and help it naturally mature and overcome the difficulties.
* War gave the fascists a chance
There was nothing wrong with this Revolution. What went wrong was because of the War with Iraq. No other option was left but to have a major revolution. The war gave the fascists a chance to come to power, as they do everywhere.
* "Dayee Djaan Naapelon" mentality
I was against the Shah, still am. I was a supporter of Khomeini, but no longer. I fought with and for Mojahedin, note the past tense. So long as we, the Iranians, have not left "Dayee Djaan Naapelon" mentality, that all our problems are of somebody else's making, the next ruler would be like the last, maybe a bit worse. Sooner or later we have to learn: "Ennalaahe laa yoghayero maa beh ghomen hataa yoghayero maa beh anfosahem." (Koran) God would not change a thing for a people, until they change their very own self. Maybe then we'll peace and freedom in Iran.
* Shah claimed he was a prophet
At the period of the revolution I was a little boy. Thereby I couldn't really understand why the people of Iran took to streets? And how came it that the Pahlavi dynasity collapsed? Fortunately, last week I saw an interview of the Shah Pahlavi on TV, which was recorded, I think, two or three years before the revolution. In that interview the Shah claimed that he was a prophet and he "is just carrying out the words of God". However, Khomeini was claiming that he "is an Imam and is carrying out the words of the prophet". Since then it is for me obvious why really the Pahlavi dynasty must be overthrown.
* We the people of Iran need a change
Revolutions are sometimes necesarry do to frustration and hate. During the revolution, WE, THE PEOPLE OF IRAN were fed the beliefs of a superior and independant country when we did not open our eyes and view the pro's and con's. What we did we thought was for the best, but now look at us, we fear the worst anytime we see soemone with a military unifom on. We are domitaed by our Islamic government, but with the procedures and actions they take, our government doesn't seem so Islamic or religious. When we over threw the Shah, we didn't do what was best for the people of Iran, we did what we were told was best for the people of Iran. Look how bad we have suffered: one American Dollar is worth over eight hundred Iranian tomans. It's going to get worst before it gets better. We the people of Iran have to decide what we want, because what we got is no way to live. We the people of Iran need a change from the cruel and unjust Iron Grip of our so called Islamic government.
Yes, it has been twenty years since people took to the streets and overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty. There have been so many dramatic events since then, all of which have left deep marks on every one of us. All of us have strong views about them, one way or the other. Here's your chance to express them. Maybe we'll all learn something. The results of this survey will be published in The Iranian on February 8th and you will get a copy via email.
* The government bankrupted itself
It seems rather ironic to me that the revolution's "purpose" was to rise up against what the revolutionaries and many others considered political oppression and economic inequality and establish a better government for the people. However, looking back after 20 years at what the revolution accomplished for both the people in Iran as well as Iranians all over the world, I think it's more than fair to say that the only thing this revolution and its orchestrates and participants have managed to accomplish is that they have managed to set the entire country back by at least a few centuries and really turn it into a third world nation Twenty years later, Iran has an economic system that is in shambles with out of control inflation, the people have no political freedom, retribution for dissention from the religious powers that be is more severe and more prevalent than ever, and the country itself and its representatives are shunned in almost every arena from politics to sport to cinema. In an article in the New York Times this week, it was written that there are banners hanging in cities in Iran where exhibits have been set up to mark the "celebration". One of the banners in particular refers to the revolution as : "The 10 days of dawn gave our nation the sweet fruit of victory." ...... Victory over what I ask?! Over political oppression, over tyranny, over economic inequality? There has been no victory for the people, only countless losses including the tremendous loss of life that was incurred in the useless eight year war with Iraq that neither accomplished, nor gained anything in principle, politics, or even land. The government bankrupted itself and its people monetarily and emotionally for absolutely nothing. Granted, when the Shah's regime was in power, things were not perfect, however Iranians overall had more opportunities and much more freedom than they have now. The revolution to gain more and make people's lives better has in the end, cost them everything they have, including their futures. At least possibilities existed and futures were something to look forward to back then. It seems so long ago.... that time when we could all hold our heads up high and stand tall and proud telling people that we were Iranian. We once had a king who was respected and held in high regard by world leaders and his diplomacy and "shakhsee-at" brought respect and pride to all of us and honored our heritage. Who would ever have thought it would take only twenty years to destroy what it took our ancestors so long to create? If the revolutionaries and the religious leaders consider this an accomplishment to be proud of, then indeed, they have much to celebrate, for they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
* Another survey on the 1979 revolution (Feb
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