THIS BOOK IS a story of failure—the failure of the Islamic Republic, despite thirty years of propaganda and political education, to inculcate in a new generation of Iranians faith in the ideology of the regime. The children of the revolution of 1979 have turned their backs on its values; and this was nowhere more evident than in the mass protests against the manipulated presidential elections of 2009. The young joined the protests in hordes; and the regime’s harsh suppression of these protests, along with the widespread arrests, torture and deaths in prison that followed, were the final steps in delegitimizing the Islamic Republic and its barren ideology.
The generation of Arash Hejazi’s parents embraced the revolution; and their children volunteered to defend it when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980. But when, as young adults, they took to the streets two years ago to ask, “Where is my vote?” they were mowed down by the regime’s goons and security forces. These young men and women were not afraid. They had fought every effort by the regime to isolate them from the West, and now they used their cell phones and their blogs, their videos and the Internet to broadcast to the world the violence taking place on the streets of Tehran. As Hejazi writes, “We were also a generation that, for lack of anything else to do, spent its time learning. We were the true witnesses of our nation.”
“Non posso vivere nel silenzio, gli occhi di Neda mi perseguitano”
Dal suo rifugio a Londra parla ilmedico che cercò di salvare la studentessa-simbolo della rivolta iraniana. E che trovò il coraggio graziea Paolo Coelho
di Emanuela Zuccalà
UNA RAGAZZA A TERRA, il volto percorso da rivoli di sangue scuro. Due uomini tentanodi rianimarla. Uno urla: “Resta con me!”. Le grida della folla crescono tragiche e confuse. Era il 20 giugno 2009: a Teheran milioni di persone manifestavano contro i brogli elettorali, che avevano portato alla vittoria del presidente Mahmud Ahmadinejad sull’avversario riformista Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Neda Soltani, 26 anni, studentessa di Filosofia freddata da un miliziano, diventava il simbolo dei giovani iraniani affamati di libertà. La sua morte in diretta, ripresa da un telefonino, si diffondeva per il globo attraverso YouTube: un documento eccezionale, che rivelava senza filtri la brutalità del regime iraniano. A metterlo online era stato lo stesso uomo in camicia bianca che nel video cerca di salvare Neda. E che adesso siede di fronte a me in un appartamento di Londra.
The Italian Edition of the Gaze of the Gazelle, the autobiography and memoir of Arash Hejazi, was launched today by Edizioni Piemme in in Italy with a foreword by Paulo Coelho. You can read the first chapter for free here (PDF).
Arash Hejazi, foreword by Paulo Coelho. Seagull (Univ. of Chicago, dist.), $21 (408p) ISBN 978-1-906497-90-3
In this ungainly but colorful memoir, Hejazi describes growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran as a member of the “Burnt Generation”–many of whom fought on the Iraqi front only to return home to a corrupt, murderous regime. Hejazi avoided war, but shared his generation’s growing disenchantment with the government, first as a young doctor forced to turn away the poor, and later as a publisher battling state censors. Hejazi’s personal story abounds with anecdotes striking enough to Continue reading →
On 20 June 2009, a brief video clip was circulated all over the world. It showed the death of a young, unarmed woman called Neda, who had been shot in the chest while taking part in a protest in Tehran and was bleeding to death on the street. Few images in the contemporary world have had such an instant and powerful impact. This footage was so intense it raised the awareness of the world on what was happening in Iran and forced world leaders to condemn the way the Iranian government was treating its citizens.
For me, however, it was more personal. There was a young man in the video trying to save Neda. He was my friend, Arash.
…. The roster of hallucinated claims in Secrets 4 is long. Aside from its previously mentioned targets, the series assails the Brazilian pop-mystic novelist Paulo Coelho, whose novels were suppressed in Iran in January. To the rest of the world Tehran‘s action against Coelho was inexplicable, though Coelho reported that his Iranian editor, Arash Hejazi, had been videotaped, during the climactic anti-regime demonstrations of 2009, trying to save the life of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman killed while participating in an anti-Ahmadinejad protest in Tehran. Agha-Soltan’s death became a global symbol of the Iranian democracy movement.
Coelho responded to the Iranian ban by placing the Farsi editions of his books online as free downloads, and most of the Western reading public saw the Iranian prohibition on such innocuous works as yet another example of the arbitrary actions of the clerical dictatorship. Episode 25 of Secrets 4 provided, however, a detailed explanation for the abrupt action against the Latin American author. Coelho is one of more than 160 members of the International Board of Governors of the Peres Foundation for Peace, established by Israel’s former president Shimon Peres in 1996. In addition, according to the Iranian program, Peres praised Coelho in a session of the Davos World Economic Forum a decade ago, which to a public of Ahmadinejad fanatics, is sufficient condemnation in itself. For Iranian conspiracy theorists, such “connections” are gold….
The Iranian regime yesterday issued a bizarre and belated denial of reports that it had banned the books of the acclaimed Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho.
The denial came after criticism from the Brazilian Government, one of the few countries that the regime has good relations with, and a decision by Coelho to post Farsi translations of 17 of his books on the internet. “Copy, share, print and distribute freely,” he invited Iranian readers. Coelho is popular in the Islamic republic. His books have been published in the country since 1998 and have sold about six million copies. He was greeted by hundreds of fans when he visited Tehran in May 2000.
He is less popular with the regime, however, as he has befriended and defended Arash Hejazi, the doctor who was the managing director of his Iranian publishers, Caravan.
Dr Hejazi fled to Britain after he was filmed trying to save the life of Neda Agha Soltan, the student who became a global symbol of the regime’s barbarity when she was shot dead during a demonstration against President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in Coelho hits back at Iran as regime denies it has banned novelist 2009.
The regime closed Caravan down last year. Last week Dr Hejazi was told by a contact in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that “no book that has Paulo Coelho’s name on it will be authorised to be published in Iran any more”.
Dr Hejazi said: “It seems that Paulo Coelho is paying the price of speaking up about me.”
Coelho not only drew attention to Dr Hejazi’s plight after the film of Ms Soltan’s death went viral, but has written a foreword to his friend’s forthcoming book, The Gaze of the Gazelle, in which he calls her shooting an “unspeakable crime”.
Authorities gave no reasons for their action nor did they even acknowledge the ban; in fact, Coelho himself blew the whistle in his blog, on a tip from his local publisher. And an Iranian foreign ministry official has been quoted by the Brazilian paper, Valor Econômico, denying that there was ever an official ban on Coelho’s books, just a clampdown by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his publisher. But Coelho’s legion of Iranian devotees would be forgiven for hiding their signed copies.
What evidently has changed is Tehran’s tolerance of those who act, or are seen to act, in defiance of the regime, and that is apparently where Coelho ran afoul of Ahmadinejad and his theocrats. By this version, the magus’s Persian star began to fall in 2009, after his editor, Arash Hejazi, was filmed trying in vain to revive a young Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot dead on camera during a street demonstration over reportedly rigged Iranian presidential elections. That video footage went viral on the Web and Hejazi immediately fell under official scrutiny. Coelho worked discreetly to defend the editor—he admits to speaking on his behalf on social networks—and his family. Though it took more than a year, the payback has now come in the form of a book ban.