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The Reunion – Shah of Iran’s Court

Sun, Aug 17, 2003

Press

BBC / By Sue MacGregor

Standing: l-r Hossein Amirsadeghi (former Spokesman), Parviz Radji (Former Ambassador in London) Seated: Sue MacGregor, Madjid Madjidi (former head of Planning and Budget).

Standing: l-r Hossein Amirsadeghi (former Spokesman), Parviz Radji (Former Ambassador in London) Seated: Sue MacGregor, Madjid Madjidi (former head of Planning and Budget).

The year 1978 was a turning point for modern Iran. A few turbulent months of street demonstrations and brutal repression meant that a line of monarchy going back over 2500 years was on a fast track to oblivion. The people were openly defying the man who considered himself the heir of Cyrus the Great, Mohammad Reza Shah. On September 8th 1978, after tanks had tried unsuccessfully to disperse a crowd of demonstrators, soldiers were ordered to shoot.

According to the opposition more than 600 people were killed in Zhaleh Square alone. It was the beginning of the end for that part of Iranian society that enjoyed all the favours and trappings of an ancient royal court, many of whom, after the quadrupling of the price of oil, had become immensely rich. For some it would mean exile for the rest of their lives.

In the Reunion, we’ve brought together a group of Iranians who were forced out of their country, as followers of an elderly Muslim cleric exiled to Paris destroyed the Peacock Throne and returned to his country in January of 1979.

Hossein Amirsadeghi was close to the Shah and his unofficial spokesman in Tehran, Parviz Radji was the Shah’s Ambassador in London, Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh was political editor of Iran’s biggest selling newspaper and a popular radio presenter, Abdol-Madjid Madjidi was head of Planning and Budget under the former prime minister and Mrs Mahnaz Afkhami had held a Cabinet post with special responsibilities for women’s issues.

We recall the turbulent events that led to the Shah’s flight into exile, the personal tragedies which affected so many Iranians and the practicalities of a life spent in exile.

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About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more