The 1979 Revolution: Unfinished Business In IranBreaking News
tags: foreign policy, Iran, military history, 1979, Iranian Revolution
Shervin Malekzadeh is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College where he is completing a book manuscript on post-revolutionary schooling in Iran from the perspective of ordinary families and local officials tasked with educating “the New Islamic Citizen.”
Iran turns 40 on Monday, give or take a few thousand years.
As part of the official commemorations for the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, or what is known in Iran as “Ten Days of Dawn” (Dahe–ye Fajr), state television broadcasts archival footage from that period. The scenes and images are unimaginable the rest of the year. There are men with Western ties and women without Islamic hijabs. Secular housewives march in the streets alongside hezbollahi students. Jimmy Carter toasts the Iranian monarch in Tehran, and Ayatollah Khomeini meets with American journalists in France. Every year, the hapless shah comes back to life, resurrected by state media only to be chased out of the country once again, while on another channel Khomeini descends from the sky and into our living rooms on the wings of an Air France passenger plane, escorted out of exile, out of the wilderness, and back into Iran.
The footage is a reminder that revolutions can produce strange combinations, that the collective memory of those days will forever come in passé hues and sepia tones. Will there ever again in history be revolutionaries decked out in wide-collar three-piece suits and feathered hair?
Iranians watch this history replayed every year on television, but the Revolution is not about history. One thing that must be understood about Iran, about living there, is that the Revolution is never officially discussed as a finished event. Revolution is transitive, a work still in progress. A reporter asked a young man-on-the-street about his opinion of the Revolution on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary. The man replied that he wished to be around in 90 years to see the Revolution at 120. One hundred twenty.
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