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Flashback: Khomeini's speech in 1979

26 June 2005

At the dawn of Iran’s revolution Ayatollah Khomeini was heralded as the ‘leader of the world’s underprivileged’. In his first address to the Iranian nation in 1979 at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, Khomeini said:

bq. Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, that immoral traitor, fled stealing everything. He ruined our nation and filled our cemeteries. He ruined our country’s economy. Even the projects he carried out in the name of advancement pushed the country towards decadence. He suppressed our culture, destroyed people and ruined all our manpower resources.

Khomeini then went on to promise free electricity and water supplies and even free transportation and bus services for all Iranians. They would be paid for using oil revenues under a just Islamic system.

This famous speech, in which Khomeini almost promises the Iranian people an Islamic paradise on earth, can be easily downloaded from the "Internet":http://www.iranian.com/Pictory/2002/December/ak1.wav . Yet even though every word the late ayatollah uttered in his lifetime has been reproduced in countless books and tapes, this speech at Behesht-e Zahra has mysteriously disappeared from the public archives in Iran.

Ayatollah Khomeini swept to power with the promise of independence, freedom and an Islamic classless society. Today, according to the regimes own figures, 15 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and the unemployment rate among young people under 30 is about 28.4 per cent.

A quarter of century later Iran’s newly elected President Mahmood Ahmadi’nejad has promised to share out Iran's oil wealth more fairly. There is a painful irony in the fact that Ahmadi’nejad comes from and is endorsed by the core of the regime that has ultimately controlled all levers of power in Iran since the revolution. Ahmadi’nejad’s possible inability to keep his campaign promises in the next four years will be a critical challenge to the core of Iran’s revolutionary elite.

By Nasrin Alavi

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