The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.
For those who don’t know, the 1979 Islamic revolution promised social justice, freedom, democracy, and most importantly independence from what Khomeini and a significant part of Iranian society deemed as “imperialist powers” I.e: Britain, America and other western powers. The perception among many Iranians was that the U.S. was able to pursue its interests at the expense of Iranians, which gave fuel to the anti-imperialist element of the revolution.
Ayatollah Khomeini dedicated a major section of his book explaining the importance of establishing an “Islamic government” and how such government will deliver the above mentioned promises. The book also had a significant section of conspiracy theories, blaming the “imperialist west”, Zionists and others for the decline of Islam and Islamic societies. Another part of it called upon Muslims to return to their Islamic values, and to not shy away from calling for the establishment of an Islamic government. Khomeini’s criticism of “foreign influence” goes beyond the borders of Iran, as he blamed the west for the fall of the Ottoman Empire, claiming this fall “divided the Islamic land”.
Khomeini relied a lot on Islamist and anti-minority propaganda, and encourages adopting political Islamism. He did not fail to make his distaste for non-Muslims clear, for example:
Blaming Jews for anti-Islamic propaganda:
Over here, Khomeini peddles some fascist/Nazi propaganda, claiming Jews want to control the world. (No wonder a significant amount of “far rights” are fascinated by him)
…Continues to curse the Jews
And of course, Khomeini claims “evil propaganda corrupting Iranians, making them irreligious” is run by churches, Zionists, and the Baha’is (a persecuted minority group in Iran)
And to the Lebanese reading this, if you wonder where Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah got his “Agents of the embassy” smear against his opponents from, look no further.
When Ayatollah Khomeini promised “Social Justice”, and “Freedom” decades ago
First, to point out the flawed logic… And no, it’s not just about Khomeini linking alcohol consumption with heroin addiction
Social justice-seeking Khomeini claims to be “amazed” by the unjust and inhuman “laws” in the west: (Killing people for heroin possession).
Of course, such laws do not exist in the west. Clashes between police forces and drug traffickers that result with the death of the trafficker after police forces fire on him, do not count as “Laws in the west”. However, such laws do exist in Iran and in fact, Iran ranks second in the world for most executions.
Khomeini then justifies killing drug traffickers “Not those who simply possess ten grams of heroin” in this paragraph:
One could assume Khomeini used faulty comparisons in order to justify Sharia’s laws of giving eighty lashes to alcohol consumers. Of course he also justified other Sharia laws such as stoning.
Khomeini scored another “empty promise” when he claimed that under Islamic governments, people wouldn’t sit at home trembling for fear of a sudden raid or attack by the agents of the state.
Over here you could see Khomeini trying to score points by assuring Iranians they wouldn’t have to deal with organizations such as the “SAVAK” under an Islamic government. Before being dissolved in 1979, Savak was the secret police and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of Pahlavi’s dynasty, often referred to as Iran’s “most hated/feared institution” because of its practice of torturing/executing opponents of the Pahlavi regime.
Savak no longer exists, however, this does not imply in anyway that “Iranians no longer fear the state under an Islamic government”. Doing something as irrelevant as posting videos dancing, converting to Christianity, not wearing hijab, challenging the views of the Islamic Revolution, can get you arrested in Iran. Sometimes even being a dual citizen puts you at risk. This is not to forget the thousands of innocent protesters who were killed or arrested during the latest protests for demanding basic rights. Similarly, thousands of Iraqis were killed/arrested by Iran-backed militias for demanding their basic rights.
IRGC proxies in countries such as Iraq and Lebanon also threaten and sometimes kill their political opponents
“Unless the meaning of courage is oppressing and slaughtering the people” Khomeini said. I wonder what Khomeini thinks of the 1999 student uprising, when his IRGC-linked militias set rooms on fire, threw students off rooftops, shot plastic bullets directly at students, or of course, his campaign against what he calls “enemies of God” such as members of the Mojahedin, Fadaiyan, and Tudeh(Communist) parties, as well as their families, close friends, basically anyone who was accused of counterrevolutionary behavior. This is not to forget his campaign against the Bahais, whom he refers to as “apostates” (200 of whom he has executed and forced the rest to convert or be subjected to the most horrendous disabilities).
Soon after taking power, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini decreed that all women had to wear the veil, regardless of religion or nationality. “We didn’t have a revolution to go backwards” was the rallying cry which brought tens of thousands of Iranian women together onto the streets of Tehran on March 8, 1979
For six days, Iranian women marched and fought to take back what was stolen from them: a revolution. Many were attacked by counter-protestors, who assaulted them with knives, stones, bricks and even broken glass.
In short, one could conclude that an authoritarian regime was replaced with a religious authoritarian regime. Before the revolution, Iranians had “almost” every freedom except political freedom, so from my understanding, their demands of freedom heavily focused on political freedom, however, not only did they not get the political freedom they demanded, but post-revolution resulted in their loss of all other freedoms. Khomeini’s promises about promoting freedom were empty. Shah’s era class divides got replaced with new ones, with the new upper class being “Sons of the revolution’s leaders and business class that works within the rules of the regime”.
Not to say that the revolution has not delivered anything positive, for instance many regime supporters argue that Iran witnessed a significant drop in poverty rate, and a higher literacy rate among women, which is true according to available statistics. However, I believe this revolution to be a betrayal for Iranian women, a betrayal for Iranian minorities and all revolutionaries who sought freedom and justice. Today, Iran suffers from significant economic problems, a part of it can be attributed to the sanctions that hit Iran, while the other part is due to the billions Iran spends yearly financing its proxies and wars in several countries. Recently the Islamic Republic of Iran requested a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, (Khomeini also claimed that under an Islamic government, Iran would become self-sufficient and would no longer need the assistance of the west, which does not seem to be the case).
One could rightfully ask if this revolution that changed the entire region’s politics, shocked the world, and alienated Iran from most countries, was really worth it.
This article was originally published on Blog @AsAbove_SoBelow. The original can be found here.