Marjane Satrapi, Creator of Persepolis
It’s 1953, Not 1979, Says Outspoken Author

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| July 28, 2006        
[Updated February 21, 2008]

Marjane Satrapi, Author / Artist of Graphic Novel Persepolis An Iranian based in France, Marjane Satrapi is the writer and artist behind the acclaimed series of autobiographical graphic novels Persepolis. Chronicling Satrapi’s early years in Tehran and life as an Iranian exile in Europe, Persepolis is now an award-winning feature length animated film, co-written and co-directed by Satrapi herself. The Iranian government has formally criticized the film.

The outspoken author is described in a July 27th, 2006 interview by The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab as a woman who "blames Britain for many of Iran’s current political problems", yet she fully embraces British culture — fish and chips, rock music, etc. She reserves some of her harshest criticisms for Bush, Blair and Winston Churchill, who helped set Iran on its path to ruin in 1953.

“The idea came from Churchill, who is a big hero in Europe but for us, he is the nastiest man in the world. He provoked this coup d’état,” says Satrapi.

“The end of democracy in my country was not 1979,” she says, “it was 1953, when Mossadegh was pulled from power. That killed the dream of democracy, not only in Iran but in the whole region.”

Nerve Interview (2006)
by Sarah Sundberg - November 15, 2006 [link]

Persepolis Chicken With Plums feels like a book about missed opportunities. Part of the premise is that there has been a halfway sexual revolution. Nasser Ali meets a woman, Irane, but isn’t allowed to marry her. There’s also been an aborted political revolution. It’s sort of a time of dashed hope.

SATRAPI: Absolutely. The story is set in Iran in the ‘50s. Mossadegh has been overthrown. In some sense that was the end of democracy in the whole region, and the dream of a whole part of the world was broken. Nasser Ali’s dream has been broken too. The story with this woman Irane is that she’s not veiled anymore because the veil was banned by Reza Shah. It was the beginning of a sexual revolution that never actually took place.

The Independent Interview (2006)
Robert Chalmers - October 1, 2006 [link]

You once mentioned that your mother is always saying: ‘Oh no - when will the next war start?’ Last week’s cover story in Time magazine poses virtually the same question with regard to Iran. Do you think they should have nuclear weapons?

SATRAPI: You have to remember that the President [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] doesn’t exercise the real power in Iran. Above him, you have the Council of Guardians, and above them the Supreme Leader. And don’t forget that Iran was attacked for eight years, with the U.S. supporting Saddam Hussein. And that in 1953 the English and the Americans extinguished national democracy in my country, though a coup d’état.

Salon Interview (2005)
by Michelle Goldberg - April 24, 2005 [link]

Absolutely, but if we want a democracy, the Iranian people have to do it themselves. The Americans say they want a democracy in Iran, and at the same time, when the Iranians wanted to become democratic in 1953 with Mossadegh and to nationalize our oil, the CIA came and made a coup d’état in my country. Why do you want me to believe that they want to come and make a democracy? We have to make our democracy!

There are many things that I wish for in my country — I want my country to be free, I want my country to be democratic, I don’t want any journalists to go to jail because of an article they wrote in my country. But if the United States of America attacked my country, no matter what, I would be against the United States.

Newsarama Interview (2004)
by Daniel Robert Epstein (2004, undated) [link]

We have a view of Islamic nations being very totalitarian, but prior to the revolution, I didn’t realize what a free country Iran was before the revolution.

SATRAPI: No, not really. We didn’t have any freedom of speech then either. The women had the freedom to dress the way they wanted to and you could drink alcohol but freedom of speech and thinking wasn’t there. That was why the revolution happened. Our leader, Shah, was a dictator. He came to power because the CIA pulled a coup d’etat in 1953 against our Prime Minister who nationalized our oil.

Persepolis (2007) movie trailer
A French production in French with English subtitles featuring the voice of actress Catherine Deneuve, Persepolis received the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. In 2008, it was marketed and released theatrically by Sony Pictures Classics.

Related links:

My Uncle Napoleon Author Iraj Pezeshkzad Remembers Mossadegh

Hollywood Director Stephen Gaghan on Mossadegh

"T-Man" Comic Book Propaganda From the Cold War

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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