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'Iranians Want Our Country Back', Says Prince Reza Pahlavi

Prince Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of Mohammad Reza Shah and an advocate of secular democracy for Iran.

Prince Reza Pahlavi says the ongoing protest movement in Iran recognizes and decries the social, political and economic injustices of life under the Islamic Republic.

"The protests in Iran are the latest chapter in an almost 40-year struggle. They are not just about economic grievances—'the price of eggs,' as some regime sympathizers have said. They are much broader in their scope and deeper in their objective than any single economic or social issue", Prince Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and an advocate of secular democracy for Iran, wrote in an August 15 op-ed titled "Iranians want our country back". It was published simultaneously by the Wall Street Journal and by Radio Farda in Persian.

Prince Reza, who regularly tweets about ongoing developments in Iran including the public dissent over discrimination, political pressure and economic hardships, and maintains his ties with his followers on Twitter, further stressed in his article, " The Iranian people have a message: We want our country back."

Prince Reza Pahlavi, whose messages on various platforms, and most notably social media, have been resonating among protestors on the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities since December 2017, is heir to the Pahlavi dynasty whose reign was interrupted by Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Paying tribute to the founder of the dynasty and the architect of modern Iran, Reza Shah, is the subject of one of the most resounding slogans in the protest demonstrations that swept across Iran. The Islamic regime in Iran was surprised to find out that people still remember him and the monarchy after 40 years of anti-monarchy propaganda by the Islamic Republic regime.

Beginning his article with an account of the murdering of a young protestor in Karaj near Tehran, Prince Reza echoed the protestor's demands from his Twitter page, "#IranRegimeChange—for freedom, a better life, tranquillity, emotional and economic security, and laughter without stress.”

In a bid to explain the objective of the protest movement, Prince Reza reiterated that Iranians "seek to put an end to the Islamic Republic not only because it is authoritarian, corrupt and incompetent, but because it is un-Iranian and anti-Iranian."

He further explained that the clerics ruling Iran have changed Iran's centuries-old flag, discouraged teaching Iranian history at schools, and denied the nation of the right to gather for special occasions at the tombs of their national heroes, such as Cyrus the Great and national poet Ferdowsi.

He also criticized the Islamic regime for its "caste-like system of religious and gender apartheid," and for discriminating against women and religious minorities.

Prince Reza summed up Iranians' demands and determination in his article, "Iranians want liberty, justice and opportunity, but they also want their country to enjoy dignity, pride and respect. They want to retake their rightful place among the community of nations."

He added that Iranians wish "to be known and admired for the great cultural and scientific contributions of their ancient civilization…In short, my compatriots want to reclaim Iran from the Islamic Republic."

Reza Pahlavi continued that in its 39th year, the Islamic Republic regime has been "never less popular or more in crisis. It faces multiple existential challenges simultaneously…and, most significantly, an increasingly fearless population engaging in daily acts of resistance and rejection."

Criticizing the regime for supressing protest demonstrations and dissent by "insulting, threatening, jailing, torturing and killing innocent Iranians," Prince Reza wrote, "the Islamic Republic rules in fear of the people. "

He stressed that the Islamic Republic poses an existential threat to Iran and its people, and that it cannot be reformed. "This path demands civil disobedience, public demonstrations and national strikes aimed at a systemic collapse of the regime. That is the direction of events in Iran today."

Prince Reza suggested that "after the regime ends, this path must continue with free and fair elections for a constitutional assembly. Ultimately it must arrive at a national referendum on the establishment of a secular democracy designed to safeguard citizen’s human rights."

However, he made it clear that his own mission is not to assume a personal leadership role in the future state; "it is, and has been for more than 39 years, to serve as a source of hope, a voice for unity, and an instrument of change for the Iranian people. Once my compatriots have reached the milestone of a national referendum—once the Iranian people have the chance to select, for the first time, the leaders of their choosing—my mission will be fulfilled."