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The rest is history
When things started to become sacred

By A. R. Begli Beigie
September 7, 2001
The Iranian

While browsing The Iranian, the appearance of the FAQ caught my eye. You see, it was this simple phrase, "Nothing is sacred", made reading it worthwhile. It captured my imagination as memories of an earlier era flooded in. Memories of our hopes for the revolution and freedom of speech and how the former was usurped and the latter extinguished. And strangely, it rekindled the desire to keep going.

I was studying for my degree in England during the revolution. All of us were really excited about the prospect of democracy. For once you could see Iranians setting their egos and differences aside to rally around the cause of freedom. The idealism, the excitement was shared by every one of us on campus -- and there were quite a few of us around then.

I remember we were the largest group of any foreign students. Especially when it came to the sciences, Iranians ruled. There were so many of us in the mathematics department that lectures could have easily been held in Persian (in fact, the practical sessions supervised by senior students were, and in one year all the applied mathematics students were Iranian!)

In the beginning the buzz and excitement of events in Iran kept us in a state of euphoria. I remember how hungrily we chased all the news and how eagerly we debated. Things started to turn as people became confident that the Pahlavi regime clearly could not withstand the tide against it. In my mind, as debates about the future form of government got underway, things started to turn.

My parents were teachers and had instilled in me a healthy scepticism toward religion and religious authorities in particular. It helped me (before Khomeini had left Paris) question the desirability of having a religious man determining our future. It showed those who wanted to see, the danger signs of what was to come.

Some started seeing Khomeinie's face on the moon (in England!). Guys who loved drinking pints of lager (light beer in Americanese) while chasing girls at every opportunity, suddenly found religion. Next step was to quash anyone questioning Agha's motives (before Khomeini became the "Imam", or leader. I wish I had the talent to write a dark comedy about this amazing transmutation.)

Suffice to say that's when things started becoming sacred at a very fast rate.

Later they tried to stop people from questioning what Agha really meant about an Islamic Republic, and prevent a debate about how we should be governed once the Shah had been deposed. It was all under the guise of preserving unity.

Later the language became harsher and new converts became more assertive about not showing any disrespect to Agha. And then the threats started. The rest is history.

Reading the FAQ could not have come at a better time, as I was about to give up reading The Iranian. I had become dispirited watching 20-plus years of tyranny had taught us nothing about tolerance. You only have to go through the Letters section here to see what I mean. (By the way it is not half as bad as the Iranian newsgroup soc.culture.Iranian. Now that olace really shows how extreme we are.)

Enough said. As long as there are Iranians who appreciate that nothing is sacred, there is hope.

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