While Britons celebrated the royal wedding last Friday, one of Iran’s greatest intellectuals willingly fell to his death from the sixth-floor balcony of his Tehran apartment. Siamak Pourzand, aged 80, had held out long enough against the Islamic Republic, despite its best efforts to erase his outsize influence and, indeed, his existence. In the end, he died on his own terms.
Pourzand was an already prominent cultural commentator and foreign correspondent long before Ayatollah Khomeini boarded a plane from Paris, full of big ideas, in 1979. He reported on JFK’s funeral and interviewed Nixon while also finding time to write supple film criticism for the prestigious French journal Cahiers du Cinema.
Secular and cosmopolitan to the core, Pourzand had no time for the guardianship of the sadists and made a point of saying so, especially in the late 1990s when he began writing for various opposition newspapers (having been banned from the ones that were now mullah-controlled). He covered the funeral processions of Darius and Parvaneh Forouhar, a married couple who were assassinated in their Tehran apartment in 1998 as part of the “chain murders” of prominent Iranian dissidents.