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Reza Shah vs. Ataturk
The former did not preside over the total alienation of his country

Parvane Kemp
August 1, 2007

One does not expect much to be learned about the history and culture of a country like Turkey with only a short stay in Istanbul as a tourist, but one should expect a modicum of research being done into Turkey's past and present before bragging about the wonders of the Turkish society as much as Fariba Amini does in her recent photo essay, "East meets West at their best".

Although Ms Amini's progress as an interviewer is sluggishly continuing, it remains far from completion. Yes, her English needs less editing. But Amini can't write a simple travelogue without revealing her long kept complexes and misguided views on the history of her own country when comparing them with those of the country she is reporting about.

For example when she says, "After reading more about the man (Ataturk) and his accomplishments I realized that what he did for Turkey, Reza Shah did not do for Iran", she shows how little she knows about contributions made by Reza Shah that reshaped and even founded such vitally important sectors as education, judiciary, security, transport, health, communication and general administration to name but a few.

Yes, Reza Shah did confiscate privately owned land but he did not take it from the poor peasants whose earnings were plundered by their powerful and greedy landlords who had, in turn, obtained the same land by force and without giving a fare share to its native farmers. He took the land off the hands of the feudal landlords who had mushroomed around the country and were seeking to disintegrate it for the benefits of their foreign masters.

And no, Reza Shah, unlike his friend and ally Ataturk, did not preside over the total alienation of his country's literary heritage by blindly adopting a foreign script that had no connection with its rich literary past be it poetry or prose. And unlike Ataturk in his days as a member of the fiercely nationalistic Young Turks, Reza Shah had no hands in the ethnic cleansing of a major community such as Armenians who were the victims of truely the first genocide of the 20th century. Instead his modernization programme allowed Armenian community, among many other ethnicities, to flourish and prosper like in no other Islamic country.

So much for what Reza Shah did and did not do for his country. But Fariba Amini continues to surprise us with her next comment, "I was saddened to realize that Iran might have been where Turkey is today, as was the case in many ways thirty years ago." Seeing Amini lamenting the achievements of the pre-Islamic revolution era, is like seeing the former collaborators who helped the Nazis in their occupation of France talking about the good old days, before the Nazis took command of their country, without admitting to their own parts in colluding and cooperating with the occupiers.

On the pages of this website, Ms Amini never loses a chance to proudly remind us that her father was a supporter of Khomeini's Islamic revolution and as such was aptly rewarded by becoming the governor of Fars province in Khoemini's first appointed government under Mehdi Bazargan. And let us no forget that Bazargan and his cronies like Ms Amini's father were insisting to be the followers of Mossadegh, a man that despite all his shortcomings, did not seek to remove the monarchy and more importantly believed in the separation of state and religion.

Both of these principles were cowardly betrayed by Bazargan, himself a religious fanatic, and his henchmen. In their haste to steal the power, these opportunists went against their own mentor Mossadegh and kowtowed before their newly found Imam. Sadly for them, their new mentor, Khomeini, did see through their true intentions and after they served their deceptive mission, he briskly disposed of them. Khomeini had no time for traitors.

Ironically I agree with Fariba Amini in that we were, some thirty years ago, well ahead of Turkey and indeed ahead of all of the neighbouring Islamic states. But was it not for the crippling effects of the Islamic regime that Ms Amini's father and his new master, Imam Khomeni, imposed upon us, we could have been far more ahead of where Turkey is today. The difference between the Turks and Iranians is that the Turks hold the man who reformed their country in highest esteem but Iranians like Fariba Amini continue to, true to her name, deceive and deny as to their own role in destroying the achievements of a man of immense vision and valour as was the Great Reza Shah.

I suggest the next time Ms Amini is reporting on her frequent honeymoon trips, she should steer clear of political commentary and only stick to the sightseeing tours. Comment

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Parvane Kemp

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