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Interview with Reza Pahlavi (Newsweek)!!!
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posted June 12, 2001 10:26
In Search of a Throne
'A majority of Iranians believe strongly that this theocracy is unacceptable. And [our] biggest allies are the clerics who opposed this setup.' - Reza Pahlavi
June 11, 2001
Prince Reza Pahlavi was 19 when Islamic clerics overthrew his late father, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. He has lived quietly in exile, working within the Iranian diaspora. But lately he has stepped back onto the public stage. Iran is in crisis, he believes. It must remake itself into a secular state, as it was before the 1979 revolution. It is an appeal he makes to a new generation of revolutionaries-the nation's youth-delivered via the Web at www.rezapahlavi.org.
The cleric often touted as a "moderate," President Mohammed Khatami, triumphed in last week's elections with more than 75 percent of the vote. Pahlavi derides the ballot as a "fraud," a pretense of democracy that serves only to conceal repression. He spoke with NEWSWEEK editors in New York.
REZA PAHLAVI: He does not seek to end the Islamic republic. He wants to preserve it. Faced with conflict, he sides with the regime. Khatami talks about "liberalization" because Iran's youth, women in particular, expect it. But he has not implemented it. The problem is with the regime itself and the Constitution. If a candidate has the slightest criticism, they are not allowed on the ballot. The election is a farce.
NEWSWEEK: But is it realistic to speak of revolution?
REZA PAHLAVI: Understand what it means to be under a regime that has stopped at nothing to repress opinion. Two years ago disenchanted youth were frustrated by Khatami's failure to implement any of his campaign promises. The regime's response was to attack universities and throw students out the windows. When I left Iran in the summer of 1978, few signs of mass reaction were palpable. Yet in less than six months we saw what happened. Where Iran is today is not much different from the year preceding the revolution.
NEWSWEEK: Do you think that the mullahs would give up power peacefully?
REZA PAHLAVI: The regime might crack down as a last resort. But that's a declaration of war on the people, and at that point the people are going to want to defend themselves. I think a majority of Iranians believe strongly that this theocracy is unacceptable. And the biggest allies we have are the majority of the clerics in Iran, who from the very first day were opposed to this very setup. They know the best interest of the religion and the clergy today is the resumption of the traditional role of religion in society-apart from politics.
NEWSWEEK: Would you go back?
REZA PAHLAVI: Absolutely. Would I be accepted? Let the people decide.
NEWSWEEK: After 20 years of intense anti-American propaganda, isn't Iran pretty cut off from the world?
REZA PAHLAVI: Ask the young people who listen to Jennifer Lopez, or wear jeans, or are very much in tune with American pop culture. This is a country where 70 percent of the population were not even born at the time of the revolution, or were maybe 5 or 6 years old, tops. Today these young people surf the Web in the cyber cafés of Tehran. They know what's going on in the outside world.
NEWSWEEK: What's the biggest mistake your father made?
REZA PAHLAVI: The pace of progress might have been too fast. Some people might suggest that while the intelligentsia was becoming increasingly eager to see rapid progress and liberalization, traditional elements in society were becoming a little bit paranoid and confusing modernization with Westernization.
NEWSWEEK: What about the repression?
REZA PAHLAVI: Every time you have excess authority and abuse of privilege, you have a problem. There were abuses of power and privilege. I certainly do not condone them.
NEWSWEEK: Who's financing your life, this campaign and your advisers?
REZA PAHLAVI: Contrary to all the negative campaigning against my family, we did not inherit a colossal fortune. I have barely enough to cover my own livelihood. But there are also many dedicated Iranians who have the financial ability to support such movements.
NEWSWEEK: Twenty-five years ago you were growing up as royalty. Now you live in suburban Maryland. Has it been a tough adjustment?
REZA PAHLAVI: For someone considered by millions of people an heir to the throne, and who may one day play that role, the fact that I was blessed with the opportunity to see the world from the point of view of a normal citizen has been a gift. No matter how I would have studied it, it's another thing living it.
NEWSWEEK: Are you raising your daughters as Muslims?
REZA PAHLAVI: I'm raising them as people who have belief. I tell them that my religion is Islam. But I'm trying to teach my children the value of free choice and personal responsibility. Religion is a private issue, not to be imposed on anyone.
NEWSWEEK: What would you like to see for Iran? A constitutional monarchy? Republic? Islamic state?
REZA PAHLAVI: The state has to be based on secular democracy. Beyond that, for Iran and countries like it, a constitutional monarchy has served as a symbol of unity and stability. It could be again.
A note from Shahrzad- I do not understand why Reza Pahlavi and family take this king business so seriously. You would think that after living in US for 20 years, he would come to his senses that there is no difference between Velayat Faghih and King. He and his family should also remember that they are living off of the money that their father stole from hard working Iranians. If they had any decency, they would have at least spent part of it to help Iranians. REZA, PEOLPE OF IRAN HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!
All times are PT (US)
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