PART IV: Lie if you want to survive

My brother-in-law said, ‘I am privileged to live in a country where a philosopher is president,’ referring to Khatami’s degree in philosophy.

I wasn’t so sure. Yes, Khatami had advocated the need for reform and the need for more individual and political freedom. I was happy, I couldn’t deny that, especially now that I was entering the publishing business and Khatami had clearly promised to stand up against arbitrary censorship. People were celebrating in the streets and I heard from Dr Muhammadi that the Revolutionary Guard had done everything possible to prevent his being elected. He claimed that the chief commander of the Guard had asked the Supreme Leader to make public his support for Nategh Nouri, and that Ayatollah Khamenei had even seriously considered it. However, a few days before the election, Rafsanjani had asked for an urgent meeting with the Leader and told him to abandon any thought of taking sides in these election.

‘He said that, according to the polls, Khatami was going to win by more than 70 per cent. Even if Agha took sides, the 70 per cent would not fall below 50 and this would discredit the Leader.’

The 1997 election was not perverted. Twelve years later, Khamenei ignored this valuable advice and openly sided with Ahmadinejad. The election turned out to be a huge fraud and the Green Movement denounced the Supreme Leader once and for all.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t sure if things were going to go the people’s way. Khatami wasn’t a person who would fight for his ideals. He was definitely a good man who believed in what he said. But what he said was too good to be true. I had lived among the Revolutionary Guard for two years. I knew what they were capable of and I saw them propagating their hatred for him.

But I decided to seize the moment and enjoy the prospect of a better life as long as it lasted.