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Posted at 8:10 AM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Story pick: The Shah's son kills himself

By Marc Fisher

The Pahlavi family of northern Virginia is a wealthy clan whose various offspring have been prominent in Washington society circles. But this is no ordinary rich family: These are the children and grandchildren of the former Shah of Iran, who was deposed in the Iranian revolution of 1980 and who set up shop in Fairfax County.

The Shah's younger son, Ali Reza Pahlavi, committed suicide at his home in Boston Tuesday, and Stephen Kinzer, the longtime New York Times foreign correspondent who now files for the Daily Beast web site, has put together the piece with the most sweep and perspective.

From the Kinzer piece: "This shocking act of self-slaughter was the latest violent tragedy in the long history of a family drenched in blood—first that of the Iranians it tortured and killed, then its own. It is a drama of Shakespearean dimensions. The shah once ruled Iran with an iron fist, but his family later paid dearly for his sins, echoing Hamlet's judgment that royal crime 'cannot come to good.'"

The Boston Globe's story has some of the biographical and police details missing from the Beast piece. And the family's government-in-exile web site provides a sad insight into the way exiled ruling families pine for their former status.

By Marc Fisher  | January 6, 2011; 8:10 AM ET
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Comments

This article by By Marc Fisher is inaccurate and unjust. First of all, Iranian revolution occurred in early 1979.
Secondly, the Shah of Iran did not go into history as a bloody monarch. Now Iranians regard him as a kind person who did not kill people in order to maintain his power. Please review this article. This article is an insult to millions of Iranians.

Posted by: smoatari | January 6, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

As an Iranian-American who was born in Tehran just a few years after the Islamic Revolution, I can tell you this: the people of Iran who were around before the mullahs came into power long for the days when the Shah was on the Peacock Throne. Not only that, but many of those who did go out and protest against the Shah in the late 70's not only regret it, but realize they were only caught up in the moment and wish every day of their lives that they could take it back. I know this because I've asked them, many of them, these questions myself.

No person put in a place of power is going to be one-hundred percent perfect; no monarch, no president, no prime minister steps into office with an immaculate record, and none certainly leave office with one. We need not look very far to see that, one can look at a list of the last ten or twenty of our very own U.S. Presidents to witness that.

In the very end, the Shah did not leave Iran because he was defeated; he left Iran because he didn't want to break the spirits of his fellow Iranians in order to win. He could have done exactly what was done less than two years ago, and what we were all witness to, after the elections in Iran. He could have dropped tear gas on his people, had them attacked in the streets, thrown off bridges, and dragged off to jail, until all the hysteria finally died down. But he chose to do none of those things. He really loved his countrymen so much, and valued their love and approval so much that when he saw that they no longer wanted him, he left.

Now that they want him back, he's nowhere to be found. Not only that, but the ones he left behind and to which we clung to with so much hope, are now subtracted by two. First Princess Leila, and now, Prince Ali Reza.

It's strange, but though the Shah's children have left Iran, they seem to be acutely aware of its sadness and sorrow. They say it was depression that took Princess Leila and Prince Ali Reza. But to have traveled to Iran is to know what a truly, deeply sad and sorrowful country it is. In Farsi we have a word, "ghamkhar"; it's a friend so close and so loyal that this person not only shares your heartache, but who also swallows, or eats your grief and anguish right along with with you. Because so many times, hardships and grief are so hard to face alone, so hard to swallow, this friend is right there to share the grief with you, to take some of the burden off, to swallow some of the poison of misery on your behalf, so you won't have to face it alone. It seems as though Princess Leila and Prince Ali Reza, in their effort and ability to feel the pain and sorrow of their compatriots, took in too much, swallowed too much of that pain, until it was unbearable.

Prince Ali Reza's ashes are to be scattered in the Caspian Sea, a place I have visited often. I never met him in life, but from now on, every time I visit the Caspian, I will say hello to the Prince who left this world only because he wanted to go back home.

Posted by: golafarin | January 6, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I am appalled by your lack of Culture, lack of history Knowledge at least about Iran, lack of respect for Millions of living Iranians that struggle against a dictatorship of a teocracy of sinners and also killers, and lack of Respect for a suffering Family.
Whom do you try to aim by this shameful article of 'The Washington Post' that you sign? Is your writing hand-writing pen and devious reasonings, as criminal as the mullahs and islamo-fascists you are serving?
Learn that the majority of Iranians are neither republicans nor islamic at all. They are descendents of one of the older history empires, full of culture traditions true knowledge and family values. Something that your article colectively downgrades and distorts.
Look into the dismantling american family, american society, american values of no-values at all but the solely almighty dollar (already sinking), american foreign arrogance and american continuous aggression and invasion for wrong false reasons. Your are the one's that really have hands full of foreign blood and slave blood -- even of local americans blood "indians blood" -- for generations to come. Now, also paraphrasing Hamlet ideas as an adaptation, "american crime and pseudo-jornalist crime cannot come to good".
Shame on you and shame on your pseudo-director that allows such bestiality of written thoughts come to public as headlines of a story pick. You will never belong to History!

Posted by: ruicb52 | January 6, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

This is genuinely a horribly written and utterly inappropriate piece of writing, not befitting of the Washington Post. It is written in crass style on the heels of a tragic suicide of a public figure. It has a disrespectful tone that sounds vengeful and was ill-placed here and now, marking the death of the innocent son of a leader your writer clearly lack fondness for. Ali Reza Pahlavi was, by all accounts, a kind and unassuming man while also being the educated and apolitical son of a former king. He deserved a respectful chronicle of death, absent personal assumptions as to his father's rule. Parting shots can wait for the blood to dry, no? I think a great many of your Persian readers will find this article offensive in tone - and rightfully so.

Posted by: womenfound | January 7, 2011 2:05 AM | Report abuse

This is genuinely a horribly written and utterly inappropriate piece of writing, not befitting of the Washington Post. It is written in crass style on the heels of a tragic suicide of a public figure. It has a disrespectful tone that sounds vengeful and was ill-placed here and now, marking the death of the innocent son of a leader your writer clearly lack fondness for. Ali Reza Pahlavi was, by all accounts, a kind and unassuming man while also being the educated and apolitical son of a former king. He deserved a respectful chronicle of death, absent personal assumptions as to his father's rule. Parting shots can wait for the blood to dry, no? I think a great many of your Persian readers will find this article offensive in tone - and rightfully so.

Posted by: womenfound | January 7, 2011 2:06 AM | Report abuse


I have never read a more disgraceful and fabricated article on the Post in my life.
Was this article picked with a blindfold on? Did Marc Fisher at least Google Iran or the prior Monarchy?

Mr. Fisher: Do you know that millions of young people are risking their lives in Iran for simple freedoms they had under the Shah? Are you aware that the Pahlavi's symbolize a time of prosperity for Iranians? Do you know that Iranians resent the day they overthrew the Shah and this barbaric regime came into power?

Did you know that the people of Iran are mourning and grieving for Empress Farah who has seen more loss in a lifetime than most people can bear? You irresponsibly attacked a MOTHER who just lost her son. Don't you dare justify that. Not only do you lack humanity but professionalism as well.

Posted by: DCnative30 | January 7, 2011 3:20 AM | Report abuse

IS MARC FISHER REALLY A REPORTER? IF HE IS THEN HAS HIS FACTS ALL WRONG! DISGUSTED BY THE BUNCH OF CRAP YOU JUST WROTE ON THE SHAH, IRAN, SHAH's FAMILY, OVERALL HISTORY. I'M APPALLED THAT THE WASHINGTON POST DOES NOT SCREEN FALSE STATEMENTS BEFORE PRINTING! DITTO ON ALL THAT HAS BEEN COMMENTED ON ABOVE! BOTTOM LINE, MARC FISHER, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT BEFORE WRITING SUCH GARBAGE!

Posted by: LOBIE63 | January 7, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Marc Fischer, you just got a taste of the pahlavi stalkers. lol. don't sweat it. this was a lazy bum whose thieving family stole from the country. these "supporters" think it is OK because the regime now is heavy handed too. nice logic. moving on.....

Posted by: FiatBooks | January 7, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Marc Fisher whoever you are,
I happen to have a large circle of Iranian-American friends, (unlike yourself who given your evident lack of knowledge in this area may not have experienced the joy of friendship before,).
As such I happen to be quite verse with the modern history of Iran and the Pahlavi dynasty 1925-1979.
Prince Ali-Reza's grand father, Reza Shah Pahlavi managed to bring this nation from abject poverty into modernity and industrialization after taking the throne from the previous Qajari monarchs.
During 50 short years, the Pahlavis managed to build Iran into one of the strongest regional economies keeping the soviet commies out at the same time and at the height of the cold war.
Had it not have been for the Pahlavis, Iran as a nation would likely not have even been on the map today.
My understanding of their downfall is that the Iranian Communists as well as their Nationalist parties (Mossadegh and his gang) supported the extremist Ayatollah Khomeini out of despite for the Shah and his steadfast resolve to keep communist hands off of Iran.
As it happen, this treachery, as viewed by millions of Iranians today, did not pay off for the commies and nationalists of Iran because short after Aytollah Khomeini came to power he started rounding up the commies and nationalist leaders and put them against the wall.
So Marc Fisher, you may be feeling lucky that the crap you wrote about the death of an innocent member of Pahlavi family's death gets printed in WP, but your story and the manner in which you present it does not do justice to journalism or historical facts.
Go back to school and learn to write with integrity if you want to be taken seriously.
I was disgusted by your article.

Posted by: SamyBoy | January 7, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

LOBIE63;
>>>>>Marc Fischer, you just got a taste of the pahlavi stalkers. lol. don't sweat it. this was a lazy bum whose thieving family stole from the country. these "supporters" think it is OK because the regime now is heavy handed too. nice logic. moving on...>>>>>>>>>>
The least that the Pahlavis did for the international community (including your own sorry ass) was to keep shia Islamic terrorism at bay for 50 years and then they gave up.
I don't blame them.
No US tax payers have to foot the bill to keep boots on the ground in all countries that surround Iran (Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi, Truly, Pakistan...That's pretty much all the countries that we have troops in and the circle Iran).
America does not know how good the world had it with Pahlavis of Iran.
So next time you decide to be a snarly little brat making silly little comments here, at least google your stuff first.:-)
That shouldn't be too difficult.

Posted by: SamyBoy | January 7, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Marc, it is not only the exiled Royal families who "pine for" their former status. Aside from your extreme insensitivity to the emotional impact of this suicide for millions of ordinary Iranians within and outside Iran, I believe millions of Iranians now "pine for" the era preceding the current hell in Iran. Your lack of moral discernment between the Human Rights transgressions of the Pahlavi era vs the Islamic Republic is appalling. Perhaps a little social research within Iranian circles can help you not be so insulting before you fire off your next column.

Posted by: funkadelique2626 | January 9, 2011 6:59 AM | Report abuse

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