American Professor was Deeply Impressed by Imam Khomeini Wisdom

American Professor was Deeply Impressed by Imam Khomeini Wisdom

Richard Falk, an internationally-reputed academic and an American activist says he was deeply impressed by unique wisdom and intelligence of Imam Khomeini during an exclusive meeting in France.

It is noteworthy that Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies. He is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

The activist says a day before his triumphal return to Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini spoke of his hopes for the revolution. The scholar recalls and says exactly 35 years ago, I had the experience of a lengthy meeting with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in his tent where he received visitors in the Paris suburb of Neuphle-le-Chateau.

It was on the day preceding his triumphal return to Iran after almost 14 years of exile, mostly spent in Najaf, Iraq, he said.

The internationally-reputed recalls some of his memoirs in this regard as following:

I was returning to the United States after spending two weeks in Iran during the turbulent final stage of the revolution that was on the verge of victory. My presence in Iran was in response to an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan, soon to become interim prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I was accompanied by Ramsey Clark the former US Attorney General, and still a prominent political figure in the country, and Philip Luce, a highly respected leader of a religious NGO who had distinguished himself by much publicized nonviolent civil initiatives of opposition to the Vietnam War.

At the time, I was chair of a small American committee opposed to American intervention in Iran, and it was the activities of this group that, I assume, led to the invitation to get a first-hand look at the revolution.

We met with a wide spectrum of Iranian religious and secular personalities, including the Shah's last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar and William Sullivan, who was appropriately the final American ambassador to Iran.

While we were in Iran, the Shah left the country signaling the end of his monarchy, which occasioned at the time the largest mass display of joy that I have ever witnessed, with millions peacefully marching on the streets of Tehran in a festive mood.

Leaving such a scene, and having the opportunity to meet with Ayatollah Khomeini climaxed this experience of touching the live tissue of revolution. In Iran, with crowds chanting his name and carrying posters bearing his image, it was clear he was the iconic inspiration of the revolution that had somehow managed to overthrow one of the strongest and most oppressive regimes in the world.

We had little sense, however, of the sort of future Khomeini envisioned for himself or what his hopes were for the revolution. What was obvious from the moment we were seated cross-legged on the ground within his tent was the strength of his arresting presence, especially his shining eyes that seemed almost black.

What struck us immediately was his active mind and sharp intelligence. He wanted to know what we thought were American intentions now that the Shah was gone, and whether the United States was ready to respect the outcome of Iran's revolution. In turn, we asked about his hopes for the Iranian Revolution. His response fascinates me to this day.

First of all, he immediately corrected us forcefully pointing out that what had just been completed was "an Islamic Revolution", that is, asserting as primary an identity associated with religious and cultural affinities rather than emphasizing the nationalist agenda of regime change that was the common way of interpreting what had happened in Iran.

Ayatollah Khomeini went on to say that the importance of the unfolding of events in Iran related to the entire region. Imam Khomeini spoke disparagingly about the Saudi Arabian dynasty, calling it "decadent" and out of touch with its people.

Imam Khomeini, then, explained his own role in Iran, saying that he entered the political domain because the Shah had "created a river of blood between himself and the people". He added that he was looking forward to "resuming the religious life" upon his return to Iran.

There were other important pronouncements made during the meeting. We asked about the fate of minorities, specifically, Jews, who were seen as aligned with the Shah, and in jeopardy. Imam Khomeini's response was thoughtful, and suggestive of what would follow. He said, "For us, the Jews are an authentic religion of the book, and if they are not too entangled with Israel, they are most welcome in Iran, and it would be a tragedy for us if they left."

Ayatollah Khomeini spoke at some length about the crimes of the Shah's government, and the responsibility of its political entourage, suggesting the importance of individual accountability. He mentioned the Nuremberg trials of surviving Nazi political figures and military commanders after World War II as a useful precedent that would underpin the approach taken by the new Iranian leadership toward those who had carried out the repressive policies of the Shah, which included widespread torture and massacres of unarmed demonstrators.

His vision of an Islamic political future that was rooted in religious affinities rather than based on national borders. The discrepancy between his assertions that upon returning to Iran he would resume the pursuit of his religious vocation and his emergence as the dominating political figure who presided over the drafting of a new constitution and the formation of the government.

it is clear that the Islamic Republic that emerged in Iran resembled the kind of ideal design of Islamic government that Ayatollah Khomeini had depicted in a series of lectures on "Islamic Government", which was published in 1970.




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