Khomeini’s ghostwriter

Dominic Seabrook reviews Con Coughlin’s book Khomeini’s Ghost in the Observer today. Although he concedes that ‘while Coughlin makes no secret of his deep antipathy to the Iranian regime, his treatment of its founder is satisfyingly nuanced’ there is very little nuance, satisfying or otherwise, in Seabrook’s statements on Khomeini, whom he treats with not just political admiration but almost a personal hero-worship. Take a look at this:

We see the future ayatollah as an aspiring adolescent poet, writing of the pretty girls winking at him from behind their veils. Later, he returns to the genre, allegedly writing ribald verses about another cleric’s failings in the marital bedchamber. And Coughlin points out that whatever his ideas about the role of women in an Islamic society, Khomeini was renowned for his kindness to his wife and devotion to his family. ‘He never even asked our mother to bring him a glass of water,’ his daughter later told an Iranian magazine.

Indeed, Khomeini returned from exile ‘to the greatest welcome in history, with millions of Iranians flooding on to the streets, sobbing and roaring with joy.’ His death was no less an event: apparently ‘so many mourners turned out to pay their respects that the fire brigade had to spray water over the crowd to stop people fainting.’

Seabrook chides Coughlin for his insufficient respect for the great leader. Responding to Coughlin’s description of the fanatic as a fanatic, Seabrook bristles: ‘For all his supposed fanaticism, Khomeini showed himself remarkably agile and opportunistic during the crucial period in the late 1970s… He surrounded himself with moderate advisers, gave countless interviews to western reporters and modestly described himself as a simple man of God who wanted to restore ‘democracy’ to his native land.’

Also, Coughlin doesn’t give enough praise to the ‘the crucial social and economic reforms of the 1980s’:

There were years of sharp regression in some areas (the imposition of sharia, the restriction of women’s rights; the suppression of free expression) and yet of clear progress in others (a literacy campaign, or the provision of health care for the poor).

‘As a result,’ Seabrook writes, ‘[Coughlin] never really explains why Khomeini’s ‘all-pervading influence’ has lasted so long.’ Erm. Perhaps because Khomeini killed anyone who questioned it?

Seabrook also points out that ‘Communist and socialist groups, for example, were instrumental in the riots of 1978 that led to the revolution’ (except the clerics had them all shot when they had outlived their strategic usefulness) and that ‘life under the Shah was hardly a bed of roses’ (so clearly the only alternative was to install a brutal theocratic regime).

At the end of this disingenuous piece of ‘criticism’ we get this:

We have all heard the stories of middle-class dissidents and educated liberals, but it would be fascinating to hear from the working-class Iranians who benefited from the revolution, the kind of people who support President Ahmadinejad and venerate Khomeini’s legacy. It is a shame that Coughlin is too busy banging his battered war-on-terror drum to find out why they still admire him, and why despite all the travails of the last 30 years, his extraordinary brand of politicised religion still appeals to millions of people in one of the oldest and culturally richest societies in the world.

Okay Dominic. If you want to hear from a working-class Iranian how about taking a look at Azarmehr’s blog.

An Iranian immigrant living in London, Azarmehr shares his thoughts on the thirtieth anniversary of the great Islamic republic:

Thirty years on, the reality is very different from those promises made by Ayatollah Khomeini. Not only Iranians didn’t get free telephone, heating, electricity and bus services, but the standard of living for Iranians compared to the other oil producing countries in the region drastically deteriorated.

Millions of Iranians who could not tolerate the new repressive Islamic measures left the country which resulted in the biggest exodus from Iran ever since the Arab invasion thirteen centuries ago and the brain drain continues today.

Not only no spirituality was gained but the country has suffered a rapid moral decline. Government’s own figures show an alarming rise in prostitution, drug addiction and crime. At one point the school children were even asked in their classrooms to snitch on their parents and friends if they seemed to deviate from the revolutionary guidelines.

Not only the political freedoms we seeked did not come about, even our personal freedoms were taken away. We were told what to wear, what to drink, what to eat, what to listen to and what to enjoy and what not to enjoy.

Iranian instinct for survival and resourcefulness however has fought back. Bit by bit Iranian women have fought for their rights and the restoration of the rights they had before the revolution. Their resistance has meant that the Ayatollahs have been unable to push Iranian women to the status of Saudi women.

The young, the students and the intelligentsia have seen the errors of the past generations, they no longer think the same as their previous generation. Technology makes them even more aware of what they are missing and how their counterparts enjoy life and freedom in the rest of the world.

The workers, the teachers and the dispossessed are no longer swallowing the false promises and waiting for free goodies to be delivered, they are demanding their rights and their leaders remain defiant in jail.

After thirty years of elimination and brainwashing to destroy the Iranian identity and our joyous culture, the struggle continues. Our country has seen even worse and more savage invaders than these and has survived. This dark era will just be a storm in the tea cup in the Iranian history.

There are many things which are hindering the Iranian nation however, whereas thirty years ago it was the Iranian Left who helped the Ayatollahs to take over the power, now it is the international Left which is helping the clerics remain in power, the ‘useful idiots’ and the spineless Western leaders who see no further than their short term interests, the proxy terror groups in the region and the unscrupulous turncoats are all desperately hand in hand trying to keep this antiquated regime on its life support but it will be all in vain. Iran will survive and Iran will come through victorious as it has throughout the past.


The Glorious Islamic Revolution™


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