April 2011, Q&A
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 by Reza Pahlavi
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Question 1) Isn't time to share memories of your childhood, youth, mother, father and your family in a book or some form of written text, with people? And also share unpublished photos via your website? (This is one of your site's weaknesses), GreenBoy, Iran
Reza Pahlavi: Dear GreenBoy,
There are references to the subjects you suggest in one of my books (Gozashteh va ayandeh). Beyond that, I do recall my childhood memories from time to time in certain interviews. Now, if you expect me to write my memoirs, I have to tell you that I have started to compile them. Even when completed, I will not be able to publish them at this time because many of my life encounters and exchanges would involve a great number of past and current public figures and private conversations with them, and therefore it would not be appropriate to publish at this time since it could compromise some people’s positions. But it is my duty to history and my compatriots to at some point leave a published memoir with hopefully useful knowledge and information.
As for personal pictures, I have shared with all of you as many pictures I considered appropriate. Sadly, most of my childhood photo albums remained behind when I left my homeland 33 years ago. Unlike today when you can digitally scan and store pictures, we didn’t have a way to preserve them when I left Tehran. If they are not kept in either Saad Abad or Niavaran, God only knows who might have them (assuming they were not destroyed).
Question 2) Culture and Art play an important role in people's movement. In the past two years entertainers have backed the green movement, but people with sticks have ridiculed people's movement (such as the movie, Ekhrajiha). How can one deal with mercenaries and what role do the entertainers have? Shahab, Persian
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Shahab,
For me, art is the soul of a man, a more pleasant and effective form of communicating one’s thoughts and feelings to another, sometimes better than in words. And there are times in our world – like the dark times we are currently experiencing – which call upon artists to convey what repression tries to muzzle by silencing voices and breaking your pens. Thus we can compensate through a medium where the brutes have less of a chance to asphyxiate.
In its various forms, art can arm people with a mighty weapon, one that overcomes the fear instilled by pointed guns. I can see the regime’s thugs trembling at the sound of a loud chorus; of people chanting a song in unison in defiance of their captors. For example, the French “Marseillaise” (later becoming the National Anthem) or “We shall overcome” are great reminders of the power innate in such hymns.
It is up to our artists, poets, painters, songwriters and moviemakers – as many have done already – to pick up when a pen will not suffice. One voice of protest can then turn to millions, collectively demanding the same.
Question 3) Do you agree with the current "strategies" of the green movement coordinators inside including the "Tuesdays of Protest" which places the people in front of the coercive forces in the streets? Sam
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Sam,
A week after the summer of 2009 election fiasco, I said during my press conference at the Washington National Press Club as well as one week later in another press conference in Paris, that the world should not expect hundreds of thousands of people to be protesting in the streets of Iran every day from now on. I said that we will soon enter the second phase – from one of outrage and street protests to a phase of resistance. As we often see under brutal and repressive dictatorships, resistance shifts to a mode of underground organizations and activities. Just because we do not see masses of people in the streets does mean for a second that the struggle for freedom is over. To the contrary.
News organizations like CNN, BBC or Al Jazeera tend to broadcast active street events, because it is more interesting to a worldwide audience - be it in Tripoli or Bahrain. A clip of a single dissident (if it exists at all) you would normally have to find on YouTube or in a blog. As a result, it appears that we find the urge to insist on street demonstration as a means to prove that people are resisting and fighting the regime.
While I am in favor of maintaining the momentum of defiance and opposition, I prescribe to slightly different method. Routine, pre-determined days – although showing organization and discipline – would not be wise because the advantage would obviously be with the regime’s instruments of repression. They have all the tools to plan ahead in dealing with demonstrators and severely deal with them. However, the regime has less of a chance dealing with and controlling the unexpected. Such tactics would be more effective against the regime while reducing the risk to opposition forces and activists.
In addition, I am a long-time advocate of non-violent civil disobedience, and I have written and spoken about this many times. The good people of Iran far outnumber the members of the regime, army, basijis and Revolutionary Guard combined. It would be very easy for the Iranian people to effectively shut down (or slow down) the operations of the state by simply staying at home. Iranians staff critical roles around the country – at the ports, the refineries, the utility companies, the airports, etc. It could cripple the regime if my compatriots simply shut down the workings of the state – or slowed it down. In other words, as long at my fellow Iranians continue helping the regime “keep the lights on”, they continue to help keep the regime in power. Civil disobedience can be our most powerful tool in breaking the regime.
Question 4) Greetings beloved prince, you are the heir to the throne and in your interviews and visits you suggest a constitutional monarchy for the future of Iran. What is the best answer that supporters of monarchy can give to describe the advantages of such system over a Republic please? Please explain. Mohammad, Iran
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Mohammad,
In my view, and in general, I do not see any meaningful difference between a Republican form of government and a Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy in democratic societies. Is there a huge difference between Korea and Japan; Germany and The Netherlands; or France and Spain? The real question, however, is which democratic system may ultimately be more appropriate or effective in a particular country, given its specific history, nature, social composition and fabric.
When I look at Iran, I find that the institution which I represent has historically been an important element in preserving the territorial integrity of a diverse society composed of multiple ethnic communities and faiths. In our modern times, this institution can continue playing this critical role, provided of course that it symbol – the King or Queen – remains above politics as a neutral figure, with no role in the governance of the country which is (as it is the case in all democratic monarchies) left in the hands of the Prime Minister and other elected officials.
At this critical period in our nation’s history where we must all unite to liberate Iran from this theocratic totalitarianism, I expect both supporters of Constitutional Monarchy and Republicans to refrain from advocating their preferred system before achieving our current priority: Democracy, secularism and human rights. We need to stand united – Monarchists and Republicans – in demanding our sovereign right to conduct free elections, and the right to determine our country’s future (unmistakably beyond the clerical regime), to elect a constitutional assembly to debate the content of the future regime and the law of the land (I hope based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and to ratify the outcome by means of a national referendum enabling our citizens with a final direct vote.
So long as this process takes place, I for one will be a happy and proud citizen of a free and democratic Iran, regardless of the final outcome.
Question 5) Your Majesty, I Think The biggest reason for failure of Islam and Islamic societies such arrears dealing with women is unhealthy. Democracy begins at home & Family after that in society What is your opinion Your Majesty? Yours Sincerely Negin
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Negin,
Can a runner run the marathon on one leg? In my view, men and women constitute both legs of society. It would not function with only one. A modern society is one free from discrimination; one which forbids the treatment of half of the population as second-class citizens.
I definitely agree with you that this outlook begins at the core unit of all societies: in a family’s home. But this modern view point has to translate to a socio-political culture appropriate for our times. I often have noted that as a society, we need to collectively pass this hurdle: moving from a traditional society into a modern one. Modernity was sought early in the 20th century by our intelligentsia. Certainly my Grandfather and my Father both tried to usher in a new modern era for Iran where women were more equal. But the move to modernity did encounter a conflict with the masses – and especially some clerics. Perhaps, after thirty years of life under religious governance, my compatriots have altered their position on modernity.
Once again, a democratic society can resolve all these issues. This is why I prescribe a secular system – one in which there is a clear separation between religion and state. Only then can we prevent the interference of one into the other’s affairs.
Question 6) Greetings, Your appearance on Parazit has provoked different reactions on various sites. Do you not feel that these individuals are unaware of your political views? I suggest you subscribe to Balatarin and provide a summary of your thoughts? MohammadHossein, Persian Gulf
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Mohammad Hossein,
Many people assume to know my political views, even though they have not actually read or seen any of my interviews. And of course the matter of Iran and how to save her provokes very strong opinions on the best way to achieve that goal – regardless of the political figure. Regarding Balatarin, thank you for your recommendation, I will consider it.
Question 7) Greetings, what are your daughters doing these days? Fariinaz
Reza Pahlavi: Dear Fariinaz,
My first daughter, Noor, is finishing her first year in college. My second daughter, Iman, is about to graduate from high-school and will also be going to college this year. My youngest daughter, Farah, is in first grade, and like her sisters who previously went through it as well, she attends Farsi classes each weekend.