In April 2006 philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo was waiting for his flight to Brussels at the airport in Tehran. Plain cloths police officers arrested and transported him to Iran’s infamous Evin Prison in Tehran.
He was put in solitary confinement, blindfolded and then walked to an interrogation room. While most other detainees were beaten and physically and mentally tortured, he was spared of such cruel treatment. Sorbonne-educated, and author of several books, he is a prominent promoter of intellectual dialogue, and advocates non-violence in the tradition of Tolstoy and Gandhi.
In this seminal book, he describes his 125-day incarceration, and interrogation, trying to explain how the present Iranian rulers think and act towards individuals who promote liberal ideas. The mullahs want a homogenous and obedient populace to approve their way of thinking and governing. More than anything else, the book describes how thugs hired to torment those unwilling to conform to their dictates.
In the narrative, the author mentions several western and some eastern philosophers, without elaborating much about their ideas. He reports that those who are well educated, young, well-off, including many professors, engage in a lively intellectual life in Tehran. Ayatollah Khemenei’s ideas led to stifle humanities faculties in the country, but especially in Tehran.
As soon as he was arrested, the news spread throughout France where he lectured for 20 years. European and North American libertarians wrote petitions and pressured Iranian authorities to release him. He never mentions whether the Canadian government through intermediaries or directly helped him, although he holds a Canadian passport.
The narrative mainly highlights his interrogators’ arrogance, cruelty, and inexcusable interrogation techniques. Ayatollah Khamenei, who actually “rules” the country believes that his ideas of government and democracy are most suitable for Iranians. Those who believe otherwise must be snuffed our, or forced into exile. Accordingly, many librated and educated Iranians emigrated to western European countries and North America to start businesses and establishments to educate their offspring’s, and to inform locals about today’s Iran and its government.
Finally, he was set free on bail against his elderly mother’s assets and home. Now he is exile, but his beloved mother is in danger of losing her home. The author taught at the University of Toronto before this arrest, and after his release was re-hired on contract. His request for tenure was rejected and now he teaches at York University.
The last chapter is very critical of Canadian professors and university administrators thinking and behaviour, which he believes to be misguided. His advise to like-minded professors is “ Go to India or elsewhere to propagate your libertarian ideas”.
If you want to learn about how Iran is now governed read this book to learn how clerics can ruin a resource rich country, and make its society intellectually crippled.