Monday, September 06, 2004
Ahura Khaleghi Yazdi is the new cultural product of my surreal country. In his daily 4 hours programs from Rangarang TV (one of the numerous 'opposition' Iranian TV stations, located in Washington DC) he asks the Iranian people to put faith on his revival of a supposedly old Iranian religion of Achaemenid (shortened as Hakhaa) as the only way of freeing Iran from its Islamic dictatorship. He asks people to close their eyes, believe in him as the representative of "the real world," and gives them an exact definite date (October 1st) for his victorious return to Iran, and overthrowing the Islamic regime. In his strange speeches in Rangarang TV, he promises "to dance with the Iranian people in the streets of Tehran" on October 1st, and tells them their liberation would be not only a political triumph but also a spritual recovery from years of 'mental corruption.' "We all go to the real world together." A countdown clock on his website and on the TV screen shows the numbers of days, minutes, and seconds remaning from Islamic regime's life, visually showing how near the victory is. "Look at this clock," he says, "when I began to open your eyes to the reality there were many days you had to wait... now it is just 26 days."
Watching his programs on TV, makes me wonder if I have to laugh or cry. As an Iranian, one has to develop an ability to cope with unexpected social behaviors, and strange and surreal forms of political actions. To name a few of these type of actions I can mention Khomeini's Fatwa about Salman Rushdie in 1988, people seeing Khomeini's face in the moon in 1978, and Shah's talk with Cyrus the Great in 1970 assuring him that 'the Empire' is in good hands. But the craziness of Ahura Khaleghi Yazdi gives every thing a new dimension. By using the Internet and satellite TV he has added new abilities to the old Iranian business of inventing religions and Messiahs. Interestingly the spiritual leader of the new religion is also into some businesses in Iraq's reconstruction programs: he is a U.S. contractor for rebuilding Iraqi Airways. His glorious resume says a lot about the kind of political connections he has with the Iranian Monarchists and the countries who plan to bombard the beloved motherland he has inherited from 'Achaemenid.'
What makes me sad here is not the idiot I see on TV speaking about his insane religion and that exact day of 'liberation' by "Hakhaa" forces. What disgusts me is hearing the telephone call he gets from Iran, from people who have faithfully believed in his secret Achaemenid "knowledge" as the only way to liberation. People who say they are ready "to kiss his feet and become his slave" as soon as the prophet of Hakhaa goes back to Iran. According to e-mails I get from friends the number of Hakhaa beleivers in Iran is not that low, or at least way higher than what I expected.
The area which is now called Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, is the birthplace of many important ideas in philosophy and religion: the dichotomy between good and evil, the notion of punishment day, the idea of paradise and hell, and the invention of Messiah as a liberating force. These ideas are repeated throughout the history in the forms of different religions. The latest one was Baha'i Faith, in mid-19th century which reinvented all these concepts and applied them to the Modern life. Many thought this would be the last religion there, since the myth of Modernity itself was supposed to replace all those old systems, but it proved to be a naive idea. The cases of Khomeini, Iranian Mojahedin, and Dr. Ahura Khaleghi Yazdi show how the root of the problem is grown deeply far into the culture. The disaster is happening beyond what is expected to be the boundaries of this craziness. "Religionizing" every thing in Iran has nothing to do with Islam. It is Islam that is a part of 'the religion' the Iranians believe: a religion that can change its colors and names, easily replace turban with suite and tie and change the look, but it always is there to respond to any question in any period, with the same repeating answers.