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Just hours before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna released its much awaited report confirming Iran’s “development of a nuclear explosive device,” this very topic was vigorously addressed at a forum at the 92nd Street Y on Manhattan’s upper east side. Excerpts from the powerful 2011 documentary “Iranium” (which documents the genesis of Iran’s nuclear threat, beginning with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the ideology espoused by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini until today) was screened before the 200 audience members. Simulcast to a variety of venues around the country, the distinguished panel members had the opportunity to answer questions from audience members who were not present at the location.
Moderated by the film’s director, Alex Traiman (who was also involved in the production of other films documenting the rise of radical Islam and those who carry out terrorist attacks in the name of Allah such as “Obsession” and “The Third Jihad”), the panel consisted of Nazie Eftekhari, a prominent Iranian-American activist and the founder and CEO of The Araz Group, a family of companies that includes HealthEZ and America’s PPO. Having grown up in Iran, Ms. Eftekhari’s prodigious efforts have been focused on spotlighting the excessive human rights abuses against Iranian citizens that take place every day in her native country along with initiating a campaign of global support for the protection of the civil rights of Iranian dissidents.
Joining Ms. Eftekhari on the panel was former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, who served in this post during the Reagan administration. Mr. Perle is a member of several think tanks, including the Hudson Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Center for Security Policy. He is also a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Opening with images from “Iranium” in which media personalities report on the immense amount of pressure Iranian embassies throughout the US and Canada placed on those theaters screening the film and their demands that presentations be canceled, the panelists offered a historical overview of the progenitors of the Islamic revolution and political metamorphoses that have gripped Iran over the last century. “When Khomeini came to power in 1979, he was never elevated to Ayatollah, despite common misconceptions,” said Ms. Eftekhari. She added that the previous Ayatollah and the Shah of Iran severed ties in 1962 and it was then that Iranian women were accorded the right to vote. “The Shah’s father was a secular ruler who did not force women to cover their hair and if the various mullahs disagreed with his ruling they would be horsewhipped.”
Condemning then president Jimmy Carter for welcoming Khomeini and helping in the Shah’s ouster, Ms. Eftekhari said she saw a glaring resemblance between the demonstrations leading to the Arab Spring and the Iranian revolution of 1979. “As a liberal Democrat; as a supporter of Hillary Clinton and a fan of Barack Obama, I was terribly upset and extremely disappointed to know that the leaders of my country did not stand up and speak out when the people of Iran exercised their rights of free speech and dissent in June of 2009, following the national elections. Hillary Clinton has said that the leadership of those dissidents demonstrating in the streets of Teheran did not want help from the USA and I simply don’t believe that.”
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