The house is a large house by Iranian standards with plaster colonnades characteristic of Qajar architecture. There is no one on the porch that is daubed in slogans declaring Death to Mossadeq. It is 19 of August 1953. The Anglo American coup conceived by the British and conducted by the CIA has been successful. Mobs and a tank have overrun the premier’s house. There are papers strewn all across the garden. Mossadeq has been arrested. He will die in exile in his garden outside the boundaries of Tehran under house arrest. He will be buried in the front room of his rural home. Even in death, he will not find reprieve from his exile. He must be forgotten even as the country enjoys the riches of the oil that he freed for them. On a shelf in the room next to this makeshift mausoleum is a picture of the premier smartly dressed in a sharp suit standing atop a platform, smiling next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It is 1951 and he has just delivered an emotive speech drawing parallels between the American emancipation from the British in 1776 and Iran’s attempts to nationalize its oil industry. Back then many Iranians believed that the United States with its constitutional affirmations of freedom, was Iran’s best ally against the old meddling imperial forces of Britain and Russia.
A raised small platform in the seminarian city of Qom, 1964. A middle-aged cleric sits slightly elevated on a traditional pulpit above a sea of white turbans. He is preaching to his juniors, deploring a recently passed law that exempts American military personnel from being tried by Iranian courts if they commit a crime in the country. He declares that the Shah’s capitulation law is humiliating. For this he will be slapped by the Shah’s prime minister and eventually exiled, first to Iraq and then to France, only to return 15 years later to become the supreme spiritual leader of Iran after the revolution. On his return he will greet his loyal followers through a raised window at the Refah School for girls. History is framed in the humble wooden struts of the window. There are no balconies here. On the rooftop though, summary executions of those close to the ousted Shah will take place during the night. During the day, the school yard heaves with the mass of people who have come to hear Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini speak of his vision for a new Iran. It’s Februaury 1979.
Source: the Guardian