Hazhir Teimourian

The Caliphate Strikes Back

Khomeini’s Ghost: Iran since 1979

By

Macmillan 360pp £25 order from our bookshop

My only encounter with the Ayatollah Khomeini, the man who founded the present political order in Iran, was an indirect one. In the late 1960s in London, I helped to produce a news sheet in Persian for non-Communist Iranian activists pressing the Shah to return to the principles of the parliamentary constitution of 1909. Unbeknown to me, a fellow activist in Paris, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, had been sending copies to the Ayatollah in his place of exile in Iraq and the Ayatollah had objected to the way we referred to him. He wanted to be described as the acknowledged leader of the whole opposition movement. He was no such thing. He was the leader of the most fanatically religious wing of the opposition. He opposed the Shah’s land reforms and the granting of the vote to women, and he had been implicated in terrorism and the persecution of the Baha’i religious sect (with the Shah’s blessing, it must be said).

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,