Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Son of Deposed Shah of Iran Criticizes Islamic Republic

Son of Deposed Shah of Iran Criticizes Islamic Republic

By Tim Sullivan Hoya Staff Writer

Cyrus Reza Pahlavi II, son of deposed Iranian leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, criticized the Iranian theocracy and espoused democratic reforms in Iran in a speech Tuesday night in the ICC Auditorium.

Pahlavi, exiled since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, accused the Islamic Republic of Iran of enforcing “medieval mentalities through obscure laws,” through its theocratic regime. According to Pahlavi, Iran is desperately in need of democratic reforms. “[The regime] has taken God as an alibi for their ineptitude and mishaps,” he said.

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Pahlavi’s 35-minute speech also stressed a desire to rescue Iran from the Islamic Republic. “We will never consent to the decay of our motherland and we will always proudly call ourselves Iranians,” he said, referring to what he described as the damaged reputation Iran has received in the wake of the abuses of the theocratic regime.

He said that his efforts to promote reform in Iran are not motivated by any desire on his part to reassume the throne, but rather “a patriotic duty to my countrymen.”

The reigning regime is incapable of change, he said, because the constitution of the Republic establishes Islamic law as supreme. “A majority vote in Iran is subordinate to God’s will,” Pahlavi said. “Our country’s problems are not being solved.”

Pahlavi, 39, questioned the legitimacy of Iranian president ohammed Khatami’s regime, saying “Chief Theologian” Ayatollah Ali Khamemei, an Iranian religious leader, holds a grip on power. “If you think that the president is in power, think again,” he said.

Pahlavi asked a filled ICC Auditorium to imagine a Christian theocracy in America. If the American theocracy were to follow the pattern of promoting the radical religious elements in the country to leadership position, he said, “Jim Jones would be the chief theologian and David Koresh would be his president.”

He decried U.S. foreign policy in regards to Iran, particularly American insistence on searching for moderates within the ruling regime and imposing economic sanctions. Rather, he said, America should arm Iranian youth opposition movements “with the best weapons possible; knowledge, access and dialogue.” Pahlavi said that for the Islamic regime to institute reforms at this late stage of the game “is like a last second Hail Mary pass.” He said that the ultimate goal of reform must be to overturn the Muslim fundamentalist regime, likening the situation to the reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in the former Soviet Union, which did not fully come to fruition until Gorbachev himself relinquished power.

He also criticized the American government’s embrace of current Iranian President Khatami because of his limited reforms, which the U.S. sees as a step towards the end of the regime, he said. “Let there be no mistake . Khatami is there to extend the Islamic Republic, not to end it.”

He also discussed his efforts to aid democratic reform in Iran since he fled the country in 1979 with his father, the ruling Shah of Iran, who was deposed and replaced by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 1979, when the shah was deposed and replaced by Khomeini, a militant, anti-Western regime rose to power in Tehran. The new regime sanctioned the capture of approximately 70 U.S. hostages from the American embassy in Tehran.

Pahlavi established the Mihan Foundation, an organization he said is dedicated to restoring the reputation of the Iranian people by making it known that the tyrannical actions of the Iranian government are not emblematic of the spirit of its people.

According to Rafael Nemat-Nejat (COL ’03), an Iranian-American student, Pahlavi is an important figure to Iranians in America. “He represents a period of wealth and prosperity for Iran and also a symbol of hope for the future,” said Nemat-Nejat, who met with Pahlavi after the speech. “I thought he was amazing.”

Educated at Williams College and the recipient of a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Southern California, Pahlavi served as the crown prince of Iran prior to the revolution of 1979.

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