Through Four Narrations

Oral History of February 1, 1979 Part III

M. B. Alian Nezhad
Translated by Shima Sharifi


Along the 34-kilometer-way

Mohsen Rafighdoost, the driver of the car carrying Imam on that day, describes his memoirs as such: "I got up in the early morning, started the Blazer and after reciting Ayatul Kursi and Wa In Yakad Verse, I went to the airport. I arrived at 6. Nobody was there yet, but there were two policemen of our own forces. As nobody was supposed to be there, I discharged them. We'd sent cards to the welcoming people, therefore not anyone was supposed to be allowed to enter the airport. We concentrated the forces at the entrance. We had organized everything at the airport for the guests.


Mohsen Rafighdoost


The plane carrying Imam landed in Mehrabad Airport on February 1, 1979. Mujahedeen Khalgh were standing among clergymen before Imam came out of the terminal. Standing on the stairs, I said that clergymen must stand at the front row. In order to complete my job, I went to the third row to Ardak Manoukian, the Archbishop of the Armenian Church, and took him to the front row. By this, Mujahideen Khalgh and Munafegheen (Hypocrites) left in the second and third row.

Continuously we were in full contact with the control tower to receive news about landing. When the plane landed, at first nobody but Mr. Motahhari was supposed to go to the runway. He came down with Imam. After that Imam entered a small hall near the runway which we kept it empty with difficulty. Some of the people felt sick because of the crowd. One of those people was Shah Hosseini, a member of National Front. The crowdedness was to the extent that neither Imam could stay in that small place, nor we could take him out. The crowd didn't let Imam get on the car parked at the entrance; so I decided to take him back to the runway and take the car there to get on. Imam went back to the runway and talked to the people for minutes, and then he said: “our appointment will be in Behesht-E-Zahra". While quickly I was driving to the runway, I saw Imam and Hadj Seyyed Ahmad get on a Benz of the Air Force. Immediately I went to him and after greetings I said that he was supposed to get on my car. He asked for the difference. “This car is sedan, but because of the crowd we consider a SUV for you in that people can see you. At the same time Shahid Araghi came to help me and asked Imam to get on at the back seat of the Blazer. So he got off the Benz and got on the Blazer.

Mr. Motahhari was supposed to sit next to Imam at the back seat, Hadj Ahmad next to me and Hashem Sabbaghian behind Imam, with a radio in his hand to control the situation. But Mr. Motahhari didn't get on. He went to Behesht-E-Zahra by himself. Mr. Sabbaghian had sat at the back. Imam wanted to sit in front but I asked him to sit at the back seat. Pointing to Sabbaghian, Imam said:" Nobody should be here except Ahmad and me". Mr. Sabbaghian explained that he had the mission to be there. However Imam didn't accept and wanted him to get off.

After Imam and Hadj Ahmad got on the car we went to Behesht-E-Zahra. As it had been organized, the escort group was at both sides. We were in the middle, between them. The escort group exactly acted according to the program. But as soon as we went out of the airport everything was mismatched because of the crowd. They surrounded our car so escort cars left far behind. In this situation the escort group was meaningless.

The first place the car stopped was the airport square. The distance between the airport square and  runway path wasn't more than 200 meters. We could move little by little. The time when we stopped I found out that if I drive indisicively, I won't arrive at Behesht-E-Zahra on time. The population was increasing; so I decided to move without any stops and continue the way under any situation.

Imam was calm on the way to Behesht-E-Zahra. He gave his tender smile and reacted to people kindly with heartwarming hands waving. On the way he asked the name of some certain ways and places and I answered him. The first place he asked about, was Enghelab Square. "Where is here?" He asked. "Enghelab Square. It was called Esfand 24th", I answered. When we got close to Tehran University, it became more crowded. Imam asked about there, too. "Tehran University", I said. "We're going to go to Tehran University to declare the termination of scholars' refuge. Aren't we?", he said. Most of the scholars had been to the airport; moreover, it is not possible to stop and we should move ahead", I replied.

Across from the university was so overcrowded as if the car was going on people's hands. Our car was swinging to the left and right under the press.  But as soon as I felt the press was removed, I just pressed the accelerator pedal and then turned to Amiriye Street. One of the interesting points was that some people acted as if they were in the marathon race and I saw they kept running beside our car. Another thing was that one of them was holding the handle and kept expressing his love to Imam and saying dirty words to Shah and his family. I tried to reproach him but Imam said he is not in a normal mood. Then I pushed the brakes at once and the door handle was released.

The sweetest word I heard from Imam was when we were on Yad Avaran Street (currently called Shahid Rajaei) that it was an economically deprived region. When he saw there, he said to Hadj Ahmad: "I have many things to do with these people". There was a minibus of broadcasting organization in front and a Benz behind us. People thought that Imam was in the Benz. So they rushed to it and suddenly they discovered that the car carrying Imam was getting far away from them. In some cases I myself pointed to them that Imam is in this car. Four or five times we got into trouble on the way. Sometimes the crowd went on the car and surrounded it. So it led to lack of oxygen. It became hot inside. I turned on the cooler but on the other side I was worried if Imam caught a cold. A couple of times he wanted me to turn on the cooler. Once or twice I felt that I couldn’t control my hands anymore, but whenever Imam asked me: "Keep calm, don't worry!", I became relieved and continued the way.

The population didn't use to decrease on the whole way. I guess about 6 to 8 million people were there to welcome Imam along the 34-kilometer-way. When we arrived at Behest-E-Zahra sometimes people themselves pushed the car and somewhere I lost the control of steering wheels. The crowd was increasing thick moment by moment until we got to the last point where Imam got off and the car switched off. For the rest of the way a helicopter was supposed to take Imam. I didn't know that.

Hadj Ahmad Had been unconscious since the very end of Shahid Rajaei Street. After a while he was OK. I also felt sick, but Imam was fresh and in good health. When we got to Behesht-E-Zahra, Imam wanted to open the door while Hadj Ahmad and I were sitting. Before going to the airport, I put a bar to prevent the door from getting open. One had to press the lever to open the door. So Imam told me to open it. Imam was supposed to go to section 17 of Behest-E-Zahra. Due to the crowd, Imam might have been in danger during getting off the car. I was suffering of being stuck in a rough time. On one side Imam was insisting on opening the door, on the other side I was worried about the out. But I didn't dare to disobey his order. I asked Hazrat Zahra (peace be upon her) to save me. At once, I saw that Mr. Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri was coming to our car without his cloak and turban. I opened the door on my own side and told him to ask Imam not to get off. He went to Imam and after greetings he asked him to wait a minute to get on the helicopter. Imam ordered us to hurry up and not to wait them up in section 17 more than this. Meanwhile according to the coordination, the helicopter got close to the Blazer. Since our car was switched off, people's press made a distance. At this time a group of young people saying Ya Karim (The Generous One, one of the 99 names of Allah) lifted the car and put it on the ground near the helicopter. Some acquaintances encircled around the car. Mr. Nateq Nouri went up the stairs, I hugged Imam and gave his hands to Mr. Nateq Nouri's hand. Imam entered the helicopter, and then Hadj Ahmad went inside. One of the young people put his feet on my chest and got on the helicopter. The driving tiredness and the pain in my chest made me unconscious until I opened my eyes and I saw that Mr. Salehi and Dr. Arefi_ Imam's private doctor_ were giving an artificial respiration to me. Imam was firmly saying that: "I determine the government; I slap the government's face".

After regaining my consciousness, we went back to Refah School with my friends to organize the situation. I wasn't informed more until Imam came to Refah."[1]



[1] Rafighdoost, Mohsen, Rafighdoost Mohsen's memoirs, composed by: Ghassempour, Davood, Tehran, Islamic Revolution Document Center, 1383 (2005), pp. 139-141.

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