When Khomeini laughed

Iran has been rocked by protests for a week.

Published: 04th January 2018 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2018 02:52 AM   |  A+A-

Iran has been rocked by protests for a week. Though the unrest started due to economic problems, some protestors went on to criticise the clerics ruling the country. Iran became an Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and in the same year, a Western journalist interviewed him

‘A stupid, medieval rag’

Oriana Fallaci, in her interview with Khomeini, asked him about the chador, a full-body garment that Iranian women were forced to wear in the new Islamic Republic. In fact, she had to wear one for the interview

“How do you swim in a chador?” Fallaci asked. “Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress, you are not obliged to wear it,” Khomeini replied. “That’s very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She removed her chador. The interview was called off

Interrogating a theocrat

In an email to author Margaret Talbot, Fallaci wrote about the incident. After a day, she came back to interview Khomeini; his son Ahmed had asked her not to mention the word ‘chador’ again. But Fallaci did. And the theocrat laughed. After the interview was over, Ahmed told her that it was the only time in his life that he had seen his father laugh

The art of interviewing

Fallaci “makes today’s big-name interviewers look like powder puffs,” wrote Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair after she passed away in 2006. Fallachi had interviewed many of the world’s powerful—including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Henry Kissinger, Yasir Arafat and Indira Gandhi

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