One Photo and Three Memories

Compiled by: Jafar Golshan Roghani
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad

2021-09-14


■How did the photo of Imam Khomeini (God's Mercy be upon him) appear in the Iranian press for the first time after a 15-year ban?

After Imam Khomeini's opposition to the bill of state and provincial associations and the reforms proposed by the Pahlavi government, known as the White Revolution and the referendum on January 26th, 1962, and Imam Khomeini's fierce confrontations with the Shah and the Pahlavi regime, Pahlavi forces arrested him at dawn on June 6, 1963. The Pahlavi government found a way to deal directly with Imam Khomeini, who had enjoyed great fame, popularity, and fortune among the Iranian people.

It was clear that the political, security, and law enforcement agencies of the government would try to prevent any news and photos of Imam Khomeini from being published in the press; The regime set an agenda for a ban on publishing her photo in newspapers and magazines, especially the widely circulated newspapers Kayhan and Information, and no other publication was allowed to publish a photo of him. With the deportation of Imam Khomeini to the Bursa (Turkey) in November 1964 and then to Najaf, this censorship intensified to the point that for 15 years there was no news of the publication of Imam Khomeini's photo in the press until in a special and significant action, the Kayhan newspaper published a photo of the Imam at the top of its first page, on August 28 in 1978, and wrote: "Negotiations for the return of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini." Thus, Imam's news boycott was broken.

Those who went to the newsstands on the afternoon of August 28 to buy one of the two widely circulated newspapers encountered a strange scene: that is, the publication of a photo of Imam Khomeini in one of the country's official newspapers after about 15 years. This news was so important that all copies of the newspaper were sold very soon and reprinted.

At the bottom of this very large headline, it was written with a smaller headline: "Unofficial reports indicate: A delegation from the government left for Najaf." And again it was published in another headline: "The delegation to get the approval of Ayatollah Khomeini to return." Although the published news was not true and Kayhan's reporter misunderstood the action of the Pahlavi government, but it broke Taboo through the printing of Imam's photo. The action of Kayhan newspaper caused many reactions including Parviz Raji, the last Pahlavi ambassador to London; Three days later, on September 31, he wrote in his diary, entitled "Servant of the Peacock Throne"; The Tehran press has attracted public attention because of two new and unexpected actions. One is the printing of a large photo of Khomeini on the front page, who was dubbed the 'Grand Ayatollah', and this is the first time this has been done. Another ... "(Page 251)

There are three first-hand memories and narratives about how Imam Khomeini's photo was prepared and published in the Kayhan newspaper and the reactions of the leaders of the Pahlavi government and the revolutionary people and other audiences to it, which we can use to rely on:

  1. Morio ono, Professor and Director of the Institute of Oriental Culture of Toyo University, Japan, who had traveled to Iran many times before 1978, is one of those who remember the publication of Imam's photo in Kayhan newspaper that recounted in the book entitled "I was in Iran in 1978". According to him:" "On Tuesday (August 29th), two major newspapers including Asr, Kayhan, and Ettela'at, published a remarkable report on Ayatollah Khomeini, who had been deported to Iraq. I saw that Kayhan newspaper had written with a large headline at the top of its front page: "Negotiations for the return of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini" and added that no official announcement has been made yet, but a delegation has been sent by the government. For the first time, the newspaper published a large photo of Ayatollah Khomeini. Until then, Ayatollah Khomeini was a familiar face to the people, but it was not allowed his image to be published. On this day, the name and image of Ayatollah Khomeini suddenly appeared for all newspaper readers.

The Shah's government did not approve the report of sending a delegation letter to meet with Ayatollah Khomeini but did not dare to make a relationship with Ayatollah Khomeini and reach a compromise. This situation means that the Shah's government has been forced to admit to the nation once again that Ayatollah Khomeini was the center of the anti-government movement. It was the first time I saw a photo of Ayatollah Khomeini. This page of the newspaper gave me the feeling that someone who had been hidden in the shadows had revealed his face, and we have great expectations from him. I remember the June 5 uprising that took place 15 years ago. That is why, probably, I did not write anything in the note of that day about the report published with the large headline of that day and the photo of the face I saw for the first time, because I was confused." (Pp. 61 and 62).

  1. Mohammad Blouri, one of the main members of the editorial board of Kayhan newspaper, in her memoir entitled "Memoirs of six decades of journalism" published by Ney Publishing, describes how Imam Khomeini's photo was published in Kayhan newspaper as follows: "One of the days when we felt the hellish power of SAVAK was waning. Mr. Rahman Hatefi and Houshang Asadi and I had a few minutes to eat a few minutes [of lunch] and to take a rest at noon. Mr. Rahman said: "It is a good opportunity to publish a photo of Mr. Khomeini." I said we should do this as soon as possible. Confirming my words, Houshang said: "We must hurry until journalists have already provided information." Mr. Rahman said: "We do not have a photo of Mr. Khomeini in the newspaper archives. We have to find him somewhere else." I said: "We have to send a journalist to Qom, we will find him in that city." We contacted many personalities in Tehran that day, but we could not find a photo of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution. I instructed Mohammad Dehghani, who was one of the deputy secretaries of the city news service, to go to Qom and find a photo of Ayatollah Khomeini in this city.

We hoped that Mr. Dehghani would be able to find a photo by referring to Mr. Rouhani. On the same day, I took some money from the newspaper's office and gave it to a Mr. Dehghani as a travel expense, and told him to leave quickly; If this trip lasts a week, there was no problem, and he should stay in one of the hotels with the newspaper photographer so that you can get this photo and then get to Tehran quickly. Also, I said him that he should be careful that the reporters of the Ettela'at newspaper in Qom did not aware of your mission because I was worried that they would prevent you provide other photos. In addition, if he need more money during this period to stay in Qom, he could get it from the Kayhan newspaper's representative. Hence, Mr. Dehghani and one of the photographers left for Qom and we waited in the editorial office with fear and hope for good news. Interestingly, until then, members of the editorial board, like the masses, were eager to see a photograph of Ayatollah Khomeini.

When Ayatollah Boroujerdi's died, I had gone to Qom to report on the mourning ceremonies of the people. Five days later, Mohammad Dehghani and his photographer returned empty-handed to editorial office and reported that despite many searches and visits to clerics and various individuals, they could not find a photograph of Ayatollah Khomeini. This issue was very surprising for us until in the seventh day of Shahrivar (August 29) in 1978, Mr. Rahman Hatefi went to Mohammad Khansari, the secretary of Kayhan newspaper’s economic service, to solve our problems. Because he thought he was the son of Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khansari and might help us. Mohammad Khansari says: "I was working daily around noon when Mr. Rahman Hatefi whispered in my ear:" It is possible to print Mr. Khomeini's photo. Because he thought he was the son of Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khansari and might help us. Mohammad Khansari says: "I was working daily around noon when Mr. Rahman Hatefi whispered in my ear:" It is possible to print Mr. Khomeini's photo. I replied, "Well, print it out for any reason." Mr. Rahman said that we do not have Mr. Khomeini's photo in the archive, as it seems that it has already been taken out of the reach of the editorial office by the authorities. I got up and said: "I have in our house"; I left and I arrived quickly to my house. I took a photo of Ayatollah Khomeini from the book of the two-month movement of clerics written by Ali Davani with a little carelessness. In this book, photos of all the authorities who were involved in the case of state and provincial associations and wrote letters to the Shah and the Prime Minister were published. I wrapped the photo inside the newspaper with trembling and excited hands and hurried to the Kayhan newspaper. When I came down from Ferdowsi Square, I saw cars in front of me, lights and continuous horns, and I did not know why? It was about one in the afternoon when I entered the Kayhan office yard, and saw the Tajik driver of the institute coming towards our car and laughing. I looked and saw that both back wheels of the car had been punctured and I did not notice the excitement I had. "I took the photo and delivered it to Mr. Rahman Hatefi in the machine shop.

That photo was the first photo of Ayatollah Khomeini that was published in the country's newspapers." The large photo, which was published on the front page of Kayhan newspaper, caused a stir in the community, and millions of Iranians, who saw a photo of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution for the first time at streets overrun newsstands, and sometimes they stole the newspaper apart. An hour later, a wave of people, who had not received any newspaper, left for the institute. Crowds gathered around the newspaper and around Atabak Alley (current Martyr Shahcheraghi) to get a copy of Kayhan, but they couldn’t find newspaper until the Kayhan institute's print started to work again and again, and bunches of newspapers published, and news seller carried them on motorbikes and distribute to the city. From that evening until late at night, Kayhan rotary machine continued to work and the circulation reached more than one million. Nevertheless, the Kayhan newspaper was rare, and people were eager to see a photo of Ayatollah Khomeini and even willing to buy a copy of the newspaper at a high price. Interestingly, when we received Ettela'at newspaper, we saw that they were unaware of the publication of Mr. Khomeini's photo, they published a copy of Kayhan's photo on the front page a few hours later (4 pm).

We believed that the power of SAVAK collapsed through the publication of Ayatollah Khomeini's photo in the universe and republishing in news agencies around the world, and the process of popular struggles accelerated and the sermons of clerics increased. On the other hand, the people gained more trust in the newspapers, which were the only non-governmental news, and the circulation of the newspapers increased day by day, so that the ordinary people who were informed about the events analyzed political issues and events and even They took a stand ahead of the intellectuals." (Pp. 462-464)

  1. Mostafa Mesbahzadeh, one of the founders and the managing director and owner of Kayhan newspaper at the time, spoke in the fall of 1997 in response to written questions from Sadr al-Din Elahi and the role of Kayhan newspaper in the policies of the time. Elahi asked him: "The king who, according to you, had financed the founding of the Keyhan, what did he think of you and the Keyhan in the last years compared to the method of the universe?" For example, after the publication of Ayatollah Khomeini's full-page photo in Kayhan, what reaction did you encounter from him or the government and the military?" Mesbahzadeh wrote in response: "Regarding the printing of Ayatollah Khomeini's photo, as you know, when the news is important, it is published with the photo. I do not know why this was neglected, perhaps due to the mention of security officials, who had already published the news about Ayatollah Khomeini without photos. At the same time, we realized that we would soon have to publish this photo in a way that would compensate for this negligence and that other people would not look at the moon to see Ayatollah's photo. To have less trouble, we made an appointment with the Ettela'at newspaper's officials to do this together whenever we want to print the photo."

Mesbahzadeh writes: "I think it was on the 1st or 2nd of August, 1957, that I received Keyhan newspaper me and I saw that Ayatollah Khomeini's photo, not a full page, but large and well-printed, was published. I said to myself, what happened, what happened when this photo was published? I was in Kayhan's office until 2 pm and no one was talking about photo printing. I went to Kayhan and saw that this is the case; there were a lot of rumors in those days. One of the big rumors was that the government was negotiating with Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran. Simultaneously with this rumor that every day a plane used to go to Baghdad, and the plane had gone to Baghdad to bring Ayatollah Khomeini to Tehran. Kayhan reporter [Nasser Khodabandeh] went to the Prime Minister that day to get news about this rumor. The prime minister arrived at his office late in the afternoon. In the Prime Minister's Hall, the reporter saw Sharif Imami, the Prime Minister, and asks, "Is it true that a plane went to Baghdad today to bring Ayatollah Khomeini to Tehran?" The Prime Minister did not answer and smiled. Kayhan reporter considers this smile of the Prime Minister as a positive response and rushes to Kayhan's office and publishes his special news.

Kayhan officials supposed that he has received special and accurate news; they published it in detail and made a noise among people. What was true of this news was only that the plane had gone to Baghdad that day; not to bring Ayatollah Khomeini, but to bring a man named "Ashuri", arrested for setting fire to the Rex Abadan cinema. I do not doubt that the Shah was very upset to see that number of the universe. I tried to tell the truth as it happened, but I do not know if they believed it or not. The government and the military were both very upset and angry. I have always borne this responsibility and will continue to take it, but the point I would like to mention as the main conclusion of this discussion is that the way of the Keyhan newspaper from the first day of the newspaper until many years during and after the national resurrection was the same way of the first editorial. We wanted Iran for Iranians.  We wished Iran a free and self-reliant country."

 

Source: Interviewed in the Keyhan of Memories, Irannameh, No. 62 and 63, spring and summer 1998, pp. 355-357.



 
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