In early 2004, filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond (Salam Iran, a Persian Letter) and author Fred A. Reed (Persian Postcards: Iran after Khomeini) returned to Iran after a two-year absenceon the eve of the parliamentary elections that were to seal the political defeat of the Reform movement. They had come to interview several of the men and women who had propelled Mohammad Khatami to the presidency in 1997, with a mission to rebuild a civil society in Iran under the banner of human rights, democracy, free speech and a renewed dialogue of civilizations.This is their report: Irans once lively press has been all but silenced, the countrys most outspoken journalists imprisoned, and, argues Mohsen Kadivar, one of the regimes sharpest critics, the shahs crown has now merely been replaced by the mollahs turban.Most surprising of all, however, was the populist bitterness expressed against the now beleaguered Reform movement. Too many promises had gone unfulfilled; too many commitments neglected.President Khatamis Reform movement had failed to improve the peoples livelihood. Worse, it would not, or could not, defend its strongest supporters against assaults by those determined to stop a democratic restructuring of the modern worlds first religious state. It was, said Sad Hajjarian, the Reform strategist semi-paralyzed in an assassination attempt, too late: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his radical cohorts were already lurking in the shadows.
Conversations in Tehran