iOS app Android app More

Shirin Sadeghi

Shirin Sadeghi

GET UPDATES FROM Shirin Sadeghi

Did Someone Recycle the Shah of Iran's Last Speech for Hosni Mubarak?

Posted: 01/28/11 06:46 PM ET

It was just weeks before he left Iran forever amidst a massive nationwide demonstration against him that the Shah of Iran broadcast his last speech to the people, apologizing for his past mistakes. On November 5, 1978, he pleaded:

I heard the voice of your revolution. As Shah of Iran as well as an Iranian citizen, I cannot but approve your revolution. Let all of us work together to establish real democracy in Iran. I make a commitment to be with you and your revolution against corruption and injustice in Iran.


Not so for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. He did not apologize for anything in his speech to the people on their day of rage today. He did not make any amends and in fact repeatedly reinforced his power and authority:

My instructions to the government stressed that they provide an opportunity to the masses to express their views.

The government committed to my instructions and this was clear in the way the police handled the demonstrators.

In my capacity as president of the republic and by virtue of all the power conferred to me by the constitution...

I address you today not only as president of your republic but also as an Egyptian citizen.


And then he used the phrase that has even come to be dreaded amongst Americans:

"I am shouldering my first responsibility to maintain the homeland security."


Like the Shah before him, Mubarak promised to change things. He promised that he cared about the people.

I will always take the side of the poor people of Egypt.

I have always been keen toward directing the government's policies toward economic reform to lift the suffering of the people.


He used phrases in succession that he rarely if ever had used before:

"impoverished"

"the poor"

"people of low income"

"unemployment"

"raise the standard of living"

"freedom of expression"

"healthcare"

"housing"


Like the Shah before him -- a man whose grave is in the heart of Cairo because he was refused burial in the nation of his birth -- Mubarak's big speech indicated how very out of touch he was with the reality of the people and the reality of his own shortcomings in addressing their concerns.

We will continue our political, economic and social reforms for a free and democratic Egyptian society, embracing modern principles.

I have always been keen toward directing the government's policies toward economic reform to lift the suffering of the people.

The problems facing us and the goals sought by us cannot be achieved through violence or chaos, they can only be achieved by national dialogue and conscious, concerted, genuine efforts.


His speech most spectacularly overlooked the irony that if it hadn't been for the "chaos," he would never have undertaken to speak to the public at 1 a.m. on a Friday night. In the end, his threats against the people, though carefully worded, were clear enough:

There is a fine line separating freedom from chaos.

While I take the side of the citizen's freedom to express their views, I also similarly adhere to defending Egypt's stability and security.

We should be conscious and aware of the many examples around us which drove people to chaos and mayhem where they gained no democracy or stability.


Meanwhile, the streets of Egypt are still packed. Journalists who can are reporting that the speech was meaningless to the people, as they continued to defy government curfews and demonstrate through the night.

The Shah's last speech was also ignored. He, too was trying to conceal his anger at the insubordination of his people -- the people he thought he owned, which he learned that he didn't. Resting, deep in the corridors of Cairo, today he must have shivered in his grave at the lesson he learned, which Mubarak will no doubt learn himself -- that is, if foreign governments do not interfere in the Egyptian people's demands and abilities to change the direction of their future.

 

Follow Shirin Sadeghi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShirinSadeghi