Memorializing Mossadegh—Fearlessly
Iranian Students in U.S. Honor Late Leader (1967)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | March 5, 2016                     

Remembering Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh (born June 16, 1882, died March 5, 1967)

While many in Iran were surely saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh on March 5, 1967, his compatriots may not have been at liberty to openly mourn his passing — if they were aware of it to begin with — the news itself was suppressed from the public. Mossadegh’s own family were not even permitted to have a simple death announcement published in the newspapers.

On the other hand, young Iranians studying abroad were perfectly free to memorialize the late Prime Minister. In fact, their school might even help promote their activities, at no cost whatsoever.

That’s what happened when the Iranian Students Association at San Jose State University organized a memorial service for Mossadegh to be held March 8th. The event was publicized on the front page of the Spartan Daily student newspaper, even referring matter-of-factly to the former Premier, who died under house arrest after having been convicted as a traitor in military court, as “the national leader of the Iranian people”. No one, it can be safely assumed, feared any U.S. government reprisal.

The Spartan Daily — Tuesday, March 7, 1967

Iranian Students To Hold
Service Honoring Leader

The Koran will be sung at a commemorative meeting tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel by the Iranian Students Association in memory of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the national leader of the Iranian people.

Dr. Mossadegh died on Saturday, March 4. [Sunday, March 5th] Sadat Gouche, social chairman of the Iranian Students Association, stated he was “the symbol of liberty and democracy in Iran.”

The fact that it was safer to eulogize Mossadegh in America — the nation largely responsible for his violent demise — than in his own homeland speaks volumes about the often absurd nature of world affairs.

This twisted scenario — crushing an emerging democracy in a faraway land, institutionalizing fascism in that society, and then bestowing the very liberties denied to them to their kindred now inhabiting your country — helps account for much of the disturbances that would follow in the years and decades to come.
Like many other American universities, SJSU would soon become the scene of constant political turmoil related to the human rights crisis in Iran. As the USA continued to supply vital life support to the Shah’s repressive military dictatorship, more and more dissent erupted on campus over time, particularly among its Iranian student population. Though the U.S. government had been an active partner in Iranian oppression since 1953, the freedom of expression it offered at home proved to be a valuable asset in undermining the Shah of Iran’s authority.


Anti-Shah activity at the northern California college, beginning in the late 1960’s and enduring into the 1979 revolution, ranged from organized marches to the Iranian consulate in San Francisco to heated council meetings over such controversies as an accusation that the host of a campus-funded Persian radio show was airing pro-Shah and pro-SAVAK propaganda. Angry screeds condemning the “fascist Shah” appeared routinely in the letters section of the Spartan Daily. And even as far back as the 60’s, these young people were well aware of the CIA coup which started it all.

Today, nearly half a century after Mossadegh’s death, it is still easier to pay tribute to the man in America or Britain than in Iran, where the ruling despots continue their predecessor’s crusade to diminish his legacy. His name adorns no roads or buildings there. There are no statues, no plaques, no murals in his honor. And most importantly, Iran still is not free.

No Pity for Mossadegh | The Lethbridge Herald, September 24, 1953
Canadian paper on Mossadegh: “A man who deserves no pity”


Related links:

Scottish Students at Edinburgh University Honor Dr. Mossadegh (October 1951)

U.S. falling in ‘quicksand’ with Shah, the ISA saysDaily Spartan letter, October 13, 1976

State of Health of Former Prime Minister Mossadeq (1967 State Dept. Memorandum)

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

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