Iran, Freedom of Expression: Salman Rushdie and the Freedom of Speech


Iran, Freedom of Expression: Salman Rushdie and the Freedom of Speech
by Azarin Sadegh

If Salman Rushdi hadn’t forgotten to set his alarm clock, we would have never met. But that party was such a hot party and he had drunk so much that it was just impossible for him to remember his early flight to China. I could totally understand. We all could. Anyway, that’s how we all shared his destiny.

Each of us had a reason to visit China. For me, it was the China wall. Mr. O., my right-seat neighbor wanted to start an import-export business. “What do you plan to import to China?” I asked him. “French wine,” he replied. The man who sat on my left side was sleeping since the beginning of the flight. He snored, and sometimes his face twitched uncontrollably as if he had a nightmare.

Mr. O. glanced at him. “He looks familiar,” he said. I turned and looked at the man more carefully. His balding head, his angular brows and his satanic face reminded me of someone, for sure. But it was his small wings that gave away his identity. “It’s an angel,” I said.

The man opened his eyes, and glanced at us. “No, it’s Jean Paul Gaultier,” he said. “He designed this suit just for me. Do you know who I am? My name is...”

The sound of the pilot announcing the plane’s position and altitude covered the man’s last words. “We are flying over Iran, at 22,000 feet altitude, passing by the Lut desert.”

The man’s eyes grew wide. “Iran?” he asked. “My flight was supposed to go to China without passing over Iran.”

“That was the early morning flight,” I said. “You must have missed it.”

“This one has a stop in Pakistan,” Mr. O. said.

Our left neighbor gasped with a horrified look on his face. “Oh, that damn alarm. It didn’t go off on time,” he said, before turning his back to us. His mouth smelled like alcohol and hunger.

Half an hour later.

The thunder broke, followed by a series of lightning. Everyone stirred in their seats, glancing out, but the sky was sunny, as if we were passing through the Bermuda triangle in the Twilight Zone. But why should we worry? The modern technology was going to keep us safe, so we tried to calm down and focus on the snack we were going to eat soon.  The buzz of the pilot’s microphone and his short breathing stopped the hostesses in their task of distributing cookies. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Attention, Attention,” the Captain said. “We just received a communication from the Iranian Air Force.” The whole plane withheld its breath, and I just remembered where I had seen my left neighbor before. “No way! It can’t be him,” I thought, and missed part of the Captain’s speech.

“Now we have to choose between dropping Mr. Rushdie to the Iranian’s authorities, or let them attack our plane.”

People went crazy. “Where the hell is this damned writer?” they screamed.

The man on our left was shaking like autumn leaves. It didn’t take too long for the rest of the plane to recognize him.

“Drop him,” they said. “Throw him out of the plane.” They all pointed at the poor man.

“Please calm down people,” a woman screamed from the back row. “Are you out of your mind? How about this man’s freedom of speech? He has the right to say and to write whatever he wants.”

“But his freedom of speech is going to kill us,” I replied.

“It’s all a big misunderstanding,” Salman Rushdie whispered, shaking his head and hiding his face under his palms. “You should blame the critics, or the dead Mullah who didn't know how to interpret my protagonist's message.”

“Who cares about the real culpable?” Mr. O. said. “Or the freedom of speech, lady? We just want to live.”

The Captain pushed away everyone and reached our row. “Let democracy decide,” he said. “We vote.” Everyone agreed that the plane's pilot had a right to tell us what to do.

“Are they going to give us the $25,000,000 too?” someone asked and it helped us to decide faster.

We voted and I have to say that the poor man fought pretty hard and hung to his chair for at least thirty second. The Captain pushed the lever down, opened the exit door, and forced him out, while the air sucked our eyeglasses, our cookies, and a man's wig out. Everyone was seat-belted so we stayed in the plane while Mr. Rushdie left, flying and falling like a dead bird, in his Gaultier suit.

The mysterious lady began crying. “You bastards,” she said. “All this talk about freedom…just bullshit. We’re doomed.”

All of a sudden the loud sound of an explosion shook the plane. A woman’s hair caught fire and the middle rows disappeared with all its screaming voyagers. Was it the lightning or a bomb? The plane broke in two pieces and our seat belts didn’t help us anymore.

While falling down, we passed by Rushdie who – strangely – kept a lower speed toward his tragic death. “Writers don’t die easily,” he shouted at us from above, his small wings hiding his face. “Freedom will prevail.”

I didn’t have enough time to think about the deep meaning of what he was trying to convey.


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more from Azarin Sadegh
Azarin Sadegh

Dear MPD, dear Nikki,

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear MPD, Thanks for the compliment....But now I wonder what were you telling behind my back?...:-) Between us, let's be honest! Writing satire is not my strength, and making one single "shot" hasn't made anyone "master" in anything! But I really appreciate your encouragement, especially that you are the real "Master" in this area on IC!

My dear Nikki, Thank you so much for your lovely and positive feedback! Coming from you, it means a lot to me! About the dizziness, I'd say that it is a good thing, and the proof that there are so many original blogs and great writers on! Azarin

Niki Tehranchi

I enjoyed this story greatly

by Niki Tehranchi on

Hi Azarin Joon, just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the story and especially seeing your wonderful sense of humor in it.  Sorry for coming so late to the party but the featured blogs seem to be moving at a dizzying pace nowadays!  Kudos again for such a smart, funny, and interesting story, and your clean and concise writing.

Multiple Personality Disorder

Very poignant and dilemmatic

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

Okay Azarin, I take back everything I’ve been saying behind your back.  You can write satire, the kind that makes one wonder whether they should think or just laugh it out.

Azarin Sadegh

You made my day!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Oh Monda! I'm so happy that you used the word "comedy"! You made my day!! I loved your casting!

Dear Hadi, Thank you for your wonderful comment! Coming from a writer like you that I really love and respect, it means a lot to me! 

Dear David, Thank you for reading my story, and let's hope that the "Freedom" would finally win this battle!

My Dearest Nazy, I should thank you, and AIAW, for pushing us - the writers - to go beyond our usual comfort zone and to challenge our imagination with subjects that matter! Looking forward to reading yours my dear!


PS: Thanks again to my dear IC friends, Anahid, MM, Orang, Princess and Souri  for your kind words! Dear princess, I will defintely look for Pirandelli on Amazon. I think I've already read one of his plays in iran, but I can't remember the name...

Nazy Kaviani

Dear Azarin:

by Nazy Kaviani on

What a great story! It's simply perfect! I loved reading it and I laughed a lot! Your story shows so many layers of human thought and judgment, irrevocable decisions, and how life must go on (or not) in the face of those decisions. Excellent writing with humor, heart, and a conscience. Thank you!

David ET

Great message

by David ET on

While falling down, we passed by Rushdie who – strangely – kept a lower speed toward his tragic death. “The writers don’t die easily,” he shouted at us from above, his small wings hiding his face. “Freedom will prevail.”

     I didn’t have enough time to think about the deep meaning of what he was trying to convey. 


I think the narrator should have had the time or lived to tell us the story and that “The writers don’t die easily,” and “Freedom will prevail.” or may be leave the rest to the readers imagination..

Refreshing thoughts as always                   


Azarin jan, You wrote a nice comedy-tragedy Play!

by Monda on

You play you, Ben Kingsley as Rushdie, Helen Mirren as the mysterious woman... producers can save budget on the rest of the actors.  

"It's an Angel"... "No it's Gaultier" :o)) 


hadi khojinian

Azarin Jan

by hadi khojinian on

Your story is amazing Azarin jan !!

Azarin Sadegh

Thanks everyone!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thank you so much for leaving lovely comments and I'm happy that most of you liked it too!

But I'm also sorry that I had to leave an explanatory comment to describe my story..I know it is a real no-no! But when I wrote it last night, it was too late, and I was almost sleep-writing!

Cheers, Az.  


Azarin jan

by Souri on

Very great story! A flawless, nice story.....and a very subtle conclusion!

Thank you for sharing.


So true

by Princess on

 This is a very nice story, Azarin.

“The writers don’t die easily" reminded me of the Luigi Pirandello play I saw a couple of weeks ago. It's called, Six Characters in Search of an Author, You might know it already, but if not, you might enjoy it. Your powerful ending reminded me of that play.

Thanks for writing! 



Thank you!

by AIAW on

Thank you very much Azarin for accepting the invitation and for your very nice story.


هومانی علی آقا،


هومانی علی آقا،
اگه این بچه باز های اسلامی شرف داشتند، توی اطاق خواب خودشان را اول تحلیل می کردند.

Orang Gholikhani


by Orang Gholikhani on

Thanks Azarine ,

I'm fan of all Salman Rushedi works and apreciate your "clin d'oeil" by basing your stroy on a plane crash which is also the beginning of Satanic Verses.

Did you read "Haroon et la mer des Histoires" my most prefered one.



Azarin Sadegh

to bomannyali

by Azarin Sadegh on

I'm afraid you might be on the wrong thread or making a wrong fight, or maybe you have just misunderstood my story.

As MM replied to you, I think that even in free societies the safety of the majority of people should outweigh the freedom of speech of a few terrorists.

But this story is about the freedom of speech of a single man with a great mind (he's minority, and not a terrorist) and how his safety was compromised. It's true that in the story the majortity of the people in the plane threw Rushdie out...but still it didn't save them. Because I think the real power of the democracy is to protect the minority's rights and their freedom of speech.

That's why I think the real issue in Iran is not Who won the elections...but the main problem is How the official "majority" has been treating the "minority".

I hope it would clarify the story for you.

Thanks for reading, Azarin


mm reply

by bomannyali on

IRI will want to look in the bedrooms as well, if they could.

 Astaghfurillah.   Actually, very nice of them, they are just trying to reduce domestic violence-




the safey of many outweigh the terrorism of a few

by MM on

While we are free to criticize, demonstrate and heckle even the leaders in the west, many of us agree that surveillance is necessary so that terrorists, domestic or otherwise, are caught before they jeopardize the safety of the population.  The horrible events of 9/11 or subway bombings in London & Spain are not that far away to forget easily.

Besides, you and I should be used to folks listeing in our communications!  IRI does not even hide the fact that they bud in constantly, and now that Sepaah has the majority shares in the communication sector, IRI will want to look in the bedrooms as well, if they could.


Supreme Court of US disagrees with your point

by bomannyali on

US SUpreme Court has backed the Justice department in conducting surveillence including phone tappings on suspected terrorists.

The UK has a policy of detained suspected individuals with no charge.

Political Asylees to Australia was left to rot in Australian Hell and they started stiching their lips in protest.

Conclusion: Communal interest always outweighs individual's interest.  This case has been argued and shut close even in Freedom loving societies.  So what say you?


Azarin - I hope some1 woke u B4 hit ground - my story is true!!!

by MM on

When the smoking ban went into effect on planes in the US, our captain came on the speaker and said "as you know, there is a smoking ban in effect, but hell, this is a free country.  If you want to smoke, we will let you out to do so".

Anahid Hojjati

Dear Azarin, what a moving story with a great message

by Anahid Hojjati on


Dear Azarin, I really liked your story especially the ending.  The story's message is very strong.