By Syed Zafar Mehdi

Islamic revolution and legacy of martyrs

February 14, 2020 - 14:55

TEHRAN - The night was heavily overcast with snow and cold, but the day started with gentle breeze and bright sunshine. The mood on the streets was cheerful as the occasion was historic and momentous.

Tens of thousands poured into the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities on Tuesday, Bahman 22, to mark the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Exactly 41 years ago, the West-backed despotic monarch Reza Shah Pahlavi was deposed by the people of Iran, led by their charismatic leader Rohullah Mosavi Khomeini, popularly known as Imam Khomeini.

Imam Khomeini had triumphantly returned to Iran from Paris on February 1 (Bahman 12), ending his 15-year long exile. Ten days later, on February 11 (Bahman 22), the final vestiges of the Pahlavi regime crumbled as people reclaimed their country with honor and pride.

With the disgraceful ouster of Pahlavi, a minion of the Western powers, America’s criminal interference in Iranian affairs also came to an end. It was only a matter of time that they packed up and left, which was triggered by the takeover of the US embassy by angry Iranian students.

Bahman 22 is observed every year with tremendous patriotic fervor in Iran. It serves as a powerful reminder of what the foreign powers and their pawns inside the country did to destroy the sovereignty and independence of a proud nation and make it subservient to the West. People have not forgotten their history, which is evident by the massive participation in these annual rallies.

On Tuesday, like every year, there was a tremendous buzz as people marched from different parts of the city and converged at the city’s most popular landmark, Maidan e Azadi, where President Hassan Rouhani addressed the people.

Patriotic songs filled the air as marchers, young and old, men and women, sporting colorful outfits and carrying flags and posters, marched in unison towards Maidan e Azadi, which translates into ‘Freedom Square’, a reminder of the great sacrifices rendered by the people of Iran to liberate themselves from the shackles of Pahlavi dictatorship.

Pictures of Imam Khomeini, the chief architect of the Islamic revolution and Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran dotted the streets from every side. Latter, a protégé of the former, has quite impressively kept alive the illustrious legacy of his mentor and infused new life into the revolution. While Imam Khomeini led the first phase of the revolution that culminated with its victory in 1979, Ayatollah Khamenei has admirably led its second phase that continues till date.

The pictures of martyrs, most notably, the slain head of IRGC’s Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, were put up along the way from Maidan e Enghelab (Revolution Square) to Maidan e Azadi (Freedom Square). These bravehearts dedicated their whole lives to the revolution and ensured that Iran becomes a free, independent and proud nation.

It is important to note here that this Islamic revolution is not confined to Iran and Iranians. It is a guiding principle for every campaigner of truth and justice across the world. The glorious legacy of martyrs has inspired people in different corners of the world. That’s precisely why we see rallies commemorating the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in different countries today. People relate to it.

As I participated in the march on Tuesday, the feeling was strangely beautiful. I constantly reminded myself of the principles that guided the revolution, as envisioned by Imam Khomeini. I felt a hint of pride walking alongside these brave men and women, who are making history every single day by resisting the arrogant powers of the world. I felt immensely pleased to hold aloft a poster of Gen. Soleimani, who was the best student of the revolution that the great Imam Khomeini spearheaded.

Then I realized that the legacy of Imam Khomeini is no different from the legacy of Imam Hussain (as). Imam Khomeini is the product of the Karbala school of thought, where death with dignity is better than life with humiliation, where resistance against oppressors is a sacrosanct duty, where martyrdom is a badge of honor for the free men.

The revolution that toppled the Pahlavi regime has not culminated yet. It has taken a different shape and form, but the core idea, vision and concept is the same, rooted in the profound philosophy of Karbala. In every time and age, we have to identify Yazid and Hussain, Umr e Saad and Hurr. Then we have to choose our side wisely. That’s what separates free men from the slaves.

People who chanted ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ on the streets of Tehran today know the significance of these slogans. It is a part of resistance too, because as George Orwell puts it, during the times of universal deceit, telling truth becomes a revolutionary act.

This is the Iran that challenges the political and cultural hegemony of Western powers, this is the Iran that the likes of Trump and Netanyahu have to deal with, and this is the Iran that refuses to surrender despite overt and covert pressure. This Iran has survived thousands of years, and most probably shall outlive its enemies.

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