We talk about the tyranny of the Shah of Iran and the even worse tyranny of the Mullah’s that followed. We talk about the politics of Iran today and its role in terrorism, violence and the instability of the Middle East. We talk about the conflict that the United States started using their dictator pal Saddam Hussein, and quickly forget the hardships that were wrought on the people of Iran and also Iraq. And we talk about the Middle East conflict as if it is just another story.
Yet what we don’t talk about are the lives that were destroyed and permanently altered, reshaped violently and the many deaths, most of the dead are names and faces we will never know or see.
Iran has been but a political square in a political debate. But it is a nation of enslaved people, enslaved under the pro-Western backed tyrant the Shah Reza Pahlavi and then by the Ayatollah Khomeini and then again by the little dictator President Ahmedinejad.
Arash Hejazi tells the story to the Western World that is so ignorant of the facts of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf and the Islamic World in a way that puts a human face on its cover. “The Gaze of the Gazelle” is a poignant retelling of all the history we have accepted as political rhetoric in a human form. The story of real people who were impacted by our policies and our political viciousness and our stereotyped rhetoric and racism in America.
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.”
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 →
In a tale that mingles politics and the personal, mythology and history, Hejazi tries to answer the question: How did it come to this in Iran? His quest for an answer leads him through the story of the decades long aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, when Ayatollah Khomeini was brought back from exile to drive the Shah from his throne and set up the Islamic Republic of Iran.