Alireza Pahlavi Suicide: Why the Pahlavi Dynasty Still Haunts Iranians

When the Pahlavi monarchy was approaching its final days in power in Iran, I was playing with Cabbage Patch dolls in Cupertino, California, and thought my friends’ parents who worked for Apple ran an orchard. The diaspora community of Irania…

When the Pahlavi monarchy was approaching its final days in power in Iran, I was playing with Cabbage Patch dolls in Cupertino, California, and thought my friends’ parents who worked for Apple ran an orchard. The diaspora community of Iranians around me talked politics incessantly, and I remember hearing vastly varied things about the Shah of Iran, who lost power in the 1979 revolution. Some of my relatives credited him with great feats, like transforming Tehran into a modern city; one elderly great-aunt kept a portrait of him and his wife, the Empress Farah, on her bedside table. Others called him a torturer, and avoided the Iranian man at the neighborhood pool with the Shah’s face tatooed on his shoulder. He was a former agent of the SAVAK, the Shah’s dreaded secret service, and he seemed to inspire a shadow of terror even in the California sunshine.

I grew up to study political science and work in Iran as a reporter, and managed to develop an adult understanding of the Pahlavi family’s role in Iranian history.

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