This is the story of an Iranian Philanthropist who through his actions sheer determination and good deeds saved countless Iranians from a certain faith, myself included. Manouchehr Farhangi was a successful businessman in Iran’s pre-revolutionary days prior to opening a high school in Spain. His school was a sanctuary for countless Iranian students who were stranded in Iran because their International school was permanently closed down by the ministry of education authorities and had no alternative other than becoming drop outs because they could not be indoctrinated into the Iranian educational system. Mr. Farhangi decided, with the help of some of the teachers and administrators, to establish a temporary school in a neutral European country and absorb many of these students. Little did he know his school will become one of the most prestigious and sought after Baccalaureate schools in Europe, to compete and win awards against the likes of Le Rosey in Switzerland. Undoubtedly with this action he saved countless young lives from an uncertain future in the tranches of the Iran/Iraq war as well.
Farhangi was born into a Zoroastrian family in 1926 in the ancient city of Kerman. He attended school until grade 10 in the same city before moving to Tehran to attend Firouz Bahram high school. After completing the compulsory military service he commenced work for an accounting firm and very quickly rose to become the comptroller. He left the company shortly thereafter to co-find an import business and with the partnership with his brothers under the name of “Farhangi firm”. After some time, Manouchehr decides the import business, does not add value to the growth of the burgeoning Iranian society and switches to export instead. At the age of 33, marries the result of which are two sons, Ramin and Ramesh.
On a trip to London in 1971, he meets some Lebanese nationals, who boast about spending their money in Beirut and an idea is born within him that ultimately leads to one of the greatest vacation complexes in Iran. He wanted to create an environment with which to attract the tourists of the Persian Gulf Sheikhdoms to Iran as a vacation and destination spot.
He purchases 40 acres of land near the Pahlavi Port (Bandare Pahlavi). He soon realizes the land must be expanded to fulfill his dream and buys an additional 100 acres in the neighboring community. Upon further studies, in conjunction with the Tourist Attraction Organization (Sazman Jalbe Syahan), the study shows the Northern Iranian climate would not be palatable to the Arabs used to the harsh and dry weather of the Persian Gulf area, and hence the project would not attract investors as expected. Here was when Farhangi decided to re-organize the project into a modern, family oriented vacation destination for the Iranian populace instead, and hence “Dehkadeh Saheli” or coastal village complex was born. Alongside the same business he and his two brothers opened up a pharmaceutical company, which ultimately became one of the largest drug manufacturers in Iran.
By the time of the Iranian revolution the project had over 350 villas and 70 apartments built and sold, with another 70 villas under construction. When the Ayatollah’s revolution succeeded to take over the economic powerhouse in Iran, they demanded a halt to the sale and construction of the project, under the pretext that men and women swim together in the Caspian Sea!! He was summoned to the Islamic courts on several occasions and was the subjected of harassment, verbal and physical abuse. He finally decided to take a short trip to London, where he was notified by his staff that the revolutionary thugs had taken over his corporate offices and looted his house, burning it down along with his possession and his priceless private library. Upon hearing the news he returned to Iran to proclaim and protect the leftover of what was rightfully his. Shortly thereafter all of his companies and remaining possessions were confiscated this time under the false pretense of nonpayment of taxes, although he had a signed affidavit by the local representative Mullah that taxes had been paid in full. The brothers were also accused of funneling money out of Iran, a false charge to which a sentence was handed down without their presence and or a legal counsel, in a district revolutionary court in Rasht. The sentence was signed by none other than Ayatollah Montazeri who at the time was the deputy to Khomeini and his heir apparent. Little did the Ayatollah know 10 years later he would fall from the grace and be under house arrest for protesting the exact same actions he had masterminded and so blindly supported.
While in Tehran and contemplating the actions that were destroying his fruitful life’s accomplishment Farhangi met with Dr. Sioshanshi and few of the parents of the students of Iranzamin Tehran International School. There it was decided that a school needs to be established in a neutral European country for these students. Although his own life was being destroyed, he decided to embark on this passion, knowing full well he would lose a considerable amount of investment in this endeavor. His love for education and his dedication for all things Persian set him out to open the school in the warm climate of Southern Spain in the sleepy and quiet village of Estepona. He paid for the teacher’s and administrator’s salary out of pocket and established the dormitory in a seasonal hotel, and signed a contract with a local high school by the name of Collegio Don Jose, to rent a portion of the building for his students. He christened the school International College of Spain “ICS” (www.icsmadrid.org) and has always praised its success for the hard work and dedication of Dr. Sioshansi and a legend headmistress among the Iranian students; Miss Hykon Sahakian.
After three years of operation, the number of Iranian students was not sufficient to justify the continuation of the school. That is when Farhangi decided to move the school to Madrid and borrow the necessary funds from Spanish banks to ensure its continued operation.
While the school started its first year of operation with only 80 students 99% of whom were Iranian, today it has more than 600 students from 48 countries and is accredited by such prestigious educational intuitions as the International Baccalaureate, ECIS (European Council for International Schools) and NEASC (New England Association for Schools and Colleges). The school has a large population of children from the corps of Foreign Service officers in Spain. Of the 1000 International schools operating worldwide, ICS is one of only eight which is being governed by the International set of standards for its K-12 program offerings.Farhangi says, “I have been lucky all my life where everything I have touched has turned profitable with the help of good friends.” What he does not mention is his spirit to constantly help others especially the youth. The story of Farhangi and thousands like him who were forced from their beloved homeland to find sanctuary and freedom a world away is good lesson for all Iranians. The Iranian revolution set in motion such a destructive force to the Iranian society, the results of which could not be eradicated and turned back for many decades to come. Just imagine where Iran would be today if philanthropists, educators, businessmen, like Farhangi were allowed to exert their energies for their own homeland instead of that of democratic Western nations? Although he has officially retired from day to day activities, has remained active in the operations of the school as the CEO whilst the daily business has been taken over by his two sons. Unfortunately Mr. Farhangi was murdered by an Islamic Fundamentalist on Saturday March 22, in front of his home. Below is the site to read more about his unjust murder by Islamic terrorists who have been sent to all Western Nations to cleanse freedom loving people like this giant of a man.