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The Important Role Of Weeping In Iran's Domestic, Foreign Policy

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad cries as he attends a mourning ceremony in Tehran in May 2009.
Blogger "Kodan-e Ba Estedad" (Talented Moron) writes about the role of weeping in Iran's domestic and foreign policy. He has put together a number of examples from Iran's recent history.

For the last century in Iran's history, weeping has had an important role in the country's domestic and foreign policies. Whether it was due to our historic humiliation by foreign invaders, or domination of the Shi'ite and its mourning nature, should be left for the experts on the matter to decide.

It is said that Naser al-Din Shah Qajar went to Karbala and before entering the shrine of Imam Hussein, he said to his prime minister: Find me a person who delivers good sermons on the tragedy of Karbala so I can weep over it. In pursuance of his instructions, the prime minister went to find a few good ones. Whatever they recited, the shah did not weep!

The prime minister was afraid and told the clergy of Karbala that if the shah did not weep, things would go badly. They went and brought an unknown speaker. He was an old person, but one who was an expert and experienced. He told the prime minister, "I will make the shah weep."

As soon as he approached the shah, he turned toward the grave of Imam Hussein and said: "Oh Hussein, when you had lost all companions and were standing alone in the Karbala desert, you raised your voice to say, 'Is there any naser [helper in Arabic] to help me.' Now this Naser [the shah's name] has come, but it's too late."

Upon hearing this, the shah burst into tears. His prime minister feared that something might happen to the shah, so he signaled to the speaker to stop.

When Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran's prime minister from 1951 to 1953, decided to hold a referendum on dissolving the National Assembly, his interior minister, said the referendum was illegal and added, "I wept and told him [Mossadegh], 'We can do anything you say, but it is not correct to hold a referendum.'"

"A [senior U.S. official], who was a close friend of Iran and was referred to as 'a sincere brother' by Mossadegh, had 80 hours (20 days) of talks with Mossadegh in the U.S. While describing Mossadegh as a 'weeping prime minister,' he blamed the failure of their talks on confusion, fears, doubts, and Mossadegh's contradictory statements and his suspicion towards his colleagues." (Mehregan publication, No. 3 and 4 -- pp 213-219, Three reports -- pp120-142)

When Mohammad Reza Shah was leaving Iran for good, one of his army commanders fell on his feet and said, "Your Majesty, don't leave; what would happen to us?" The shah pulled him up and broke into tears. (according to Jafar Daniali, a photographer present at the airport)

After the creation of an Islamic republic in Iran, weeping became one of the pillars of Iran's internal and foreign policy.

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's representative in the armed forces, says that during the war with Iraq, "Although, Imam Khomeini decided to announce the acceptance of the resolution, yet some of the officials present at the meeting wept over his decision. But I thank God; we ended the war at the best opportunity." (part of Rafsanjani's memoir)

The day Imam Khomeini wrote the order for the deposal of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, he cried thrice. (Ayatollah Hamid Rohani in an interview with the blog "A Cup of Hot Tea")

Crying was a permanent feature during the late leader of the Islamic republic, Ruhollah Khomeini's, meetings with people. No sooner would he open his mouth to address his audience, they would burst into tears. This was such a common sight that a joke was made: Khomeini starts his speech and the audience would start crying. Khomeini addresses them and says, "Maybe I wanted to say something funny!"

In the
presidential election-campaign documentary of Mehdi Karrubi, the former mayor of Tehran and his campaign manager, Gholam Ali Karbaschi, reminds Karrubi that municipality workers were arrested and beaten up under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami and Karrubi started weeping. In the same film, when Karbaschi talks about poverty in the society, he himself also starts crying.

In his five-page letter to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, post-election detainee Hamzeh Karimi explains the torture he suffered during his 70-day solitary confinement followed by another 10 months of imprisonment. He succeeds in passing the letter to Rafsanjani, the head of Assembly of Experts, who
started crying as he read the letter.

There are many such examples, but the reason behind the spread of weeping among the Iranian politicians is not known to the writer.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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