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Ebrahim Yazdi and Other Stories

August 29, 2017
Weekly Roundup
3 min read
Ebrahim Yazdi and Other Stories

Dear friends 

On Sunday, Ebrahim Yazdi died in Turkey. He was 85. The head of the Freedom Movement of Iran, Yazdi is remembered as a revolutionary and a reformist by his admirers, and as a consiglieri to Ayatollah Khomeini by his many critics. Yazdi was one of the leaders of the 1979’s Islamic Revolution, but he claimed that for him, the revolution was about overthrowing the monarchy so that Iran could be run by its people. He said that he believed in liberalism, women’s rights and religious freedom. Had his ideals been taken on board Iran would be a very different place. 

This newsletter includes links to Arash Azizi’s fascinating obituary on Yazdi, and an interview with Gary Sick, a White House Iran expert during the February 1979 Revolution and the taking of American hostages in the November of that year. I interviewed Yazdi dozens of times, and I can say that I grew to like him. He was unique among Iranian politicians. He was media friendly and patient. He had a vision for Iran in which Islam and democracy could live side by side — an image that may sound like an oxymoron to many of us. But he patiently fought for it and patiently waited for it to succeed. He was a major presence in my film The Fall of a Shah, which I made for the BBC in 2009.

Before the next newsletter, which will be all about the 1953 coup, we present you an interview with Israeli history professor Lior Sternfeld. He provides unique insight into Mohammad Mossadegh’s impact on Egypt and the broader Arab world, Israeli-Iranian relations, and how Iran’s Jewish community responded to the coup and its aftermath. 

I strongly recommend Mahrokh Gholamhosseipour’s blog in this newsletter. Watching the amazing school principal of her son’s school in California, Mahrokh writes an open letter to her pious Iranian headmistress who made her life hell in the 1980s. I personally relate to Mahrokh’s story. I was thrown out of eight schools in eight years during my junior and senior years, mainly because of my constant fights with sadistic teachers and principals. Mahrokh’s blog is a powerful human story of Iran during one of the darkest periods of modern history.

We also continue with our Iranian-Americans You Should Know series. This week we profile the amazing entrepreneur and humanitarian Farhad Mohit. I’ve never met Farhad, but I’ve always admired the key role he’s played in championing Persian culture in the United States through the Farhang Foundation in Los Angeles. Farhad believes that promoting Iran’s heritage is an important way of building communities, and in 2013, the foundation helped secure a loan of the Cyrus Cylinder, known as “the first charter of the right of nations in the world,” to the Getty Museum in LA. His latest project is the Freedom Sculpture, a gift from the US’s Iranian community to the American people. At a time when the recently improved relations between the two countries are in no way solid, the sculpture is a welcome gesture.

As always, please let me know if you have any comments. 

Warm regards 



A Gift from the Iranian Community to the American People

August 29, 2017
Shima Shahrabi
5 min read
A Gift from the Iranian Community to the American People