A Child in the Islamic Republic

October 4th, 2010

By Brianna Aubin

Last night, I attended a speech given by Tabby Davoodi, an Iranian Jew whose family escaped from the Islamic Republic in 1988 and who was invited to speak at the University of Illinois about the Iranian regime and her experiences growing up there before she and her family fled to America.

“I’m not here for any sort of advocacy,” she explained at the outset of the speech.  “I’m not here to make you pro-Iran or to make you anti-Iran.  I’m just here to share some history and to tell a story.”

Davoodi recounted many facts about the history of the country, starting with basic information about the Shah, and then moving on to the Islamic revolution.

“The Shah were actually very pro-Jew; they didn’t want to start a brain drain,” she told the audience.  “But when the revolution started, a lot of people, a lot of Jews, could tell that something bad was coming, they started to get out.”

Davoodi’s family did not actually leave the country at that time, and Davoodi herself was born a few years after the successful conclusion of the revolution.  She then went on to show the audience an old school photo of herself, complete with a Muslim headscarf, and recounted a story from her childhood education in Iran:

“At the end of the school day, every day, we were forced to chant, ‘Death to Israel!  Death to America!’  Of course, I was only six years old, I didn’t even know what Israel and America were, but I didn’t want to wish death to anyone, so my sister and I actually staged a small rebellion.  We decided to chant, ‘Death to smarties!’ instead.  Smarties were a sort of knock-off candy, a cheap version of M&M’s.  Of course, the teachers eventually caught us, and the entire school was ushered into the auditorium.  The principal said, ‘Children, we’ve been getting reports that you’ve been questioning what your teachers are telling you.’  I’d never heard the word ‘questioning’ uttered in such an ominous tone.   I thought we had landed our family in prison, that we would go to jail but the principal then said, ‘We want you to know that when you say “Death to America!” you’re not actually wishing anyone death, you’re wishing for death to the regime.’  But when I thought about that, I wondered, ‘Well if we’re not wishing death to the American people, then who are we wishing death to?  Who’s actually doing the dying, if not the people?'”

From there, Davoodi went on to share some information about the Iranian regime, including the fact that Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Jihad were all funded, trained and equipped by Iran, as are many of the insurgents who are fighting our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She showed some pictures of Ahmadinejad hugging leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, and said that they were basically all controlled by Iran.  “One of the things my mother used to say when she put my sister and me to bed was, ‘If you don’t go to sleep, Hezbollah will get you.’  So we all knew who was behind Hezbollah, that it wasn’t the Lebanese people.”

From there, she went on to the Iran-Iraq war, which went on for eight years and claimed millions of lives.

“One of the things that happened during the war,” she explained, “was that the Iraqis laid down lots of mines.  And of course, back in those days there was only one way to find a mine, by stepping on it.  So the regime went out and took these young boys from impoverished areas.  They brought them out to the fields, and they handed each of them a golden key.  They were told, ‘My sons, you see that field?  Run out towards there, and when you’ve completed your mission, this key will open the gates of Heaven.'”

It was towards the conclusion of the war that Davoodi’s family finally decided to flee the country.  “Towards the end of the war, the Iraqis started to bomb Tehran, where we lived,” she said.  “It was Armageddon.  The sky was on fire.  And one night, we were outside our house, and my father grabbed me under one arm and my sister under the other, and my mother was behind us, and we just fled.”

Once the personal part of her story as a subject of the regime had been concluded, she then moved on to describe some of the human rights violations of the regime, including the fact that women were stoned, and that the regime was/is the biggest executer of child-offenders in the world.

“I want you to think about what it means,” she said, “what it says about a regime that feels this way about the value of human life.  I want you to think about how such a regime will treat its citizens, will treat its neighbors.  But I especially want you to think about how this will cause a regime to treat its enemies.  If this is what it is willing to do to its friends, then what would it be willing to do to its enemies?”

She then went on to describe some of the activities that Ahmadinejad has been engaged in more recently, such as his denial of the Holocaust, his recent assertions before the UN that America perpetrated 9/11 to save the US economy and the “Zionist Regime,” and his statement that, “A world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible.”

“One of the most important things you can do is education,” she told the audience.  “If you educate yourself, if you educate others, than people will thank you.  Our troops will thank you.  The victims of these terrorist groups around the world will thank you.  The Iranian people will thank you.  And I will thank you.”

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4 Responses to “A Child in the Islamic Republic”

  1. Elisheva Levin |

    Thanks for this. We don’t often get to hear how tyranny looks to the eyes of a child.

  2. Tom Carter |

    Fascinating, Brianna. I’d like to hear her speak. Do you know of anything on video — I couldn’t find one of her talks on YouTube, for example.

    It should be pretty obvious that the more islamicized a society becomes, the more miserable it becomes, especially for women. Europeans are learning that every day, and Americans should get over their political squabbling and recognize this stark reality for what it is.

  3. Brianna |

    Tom – there won’t be any video; she specifically requested that nobody take any because she still has family back in Iran that she doesn’t want to endanger. Of course, speaking at all involves a certain amount of risk, but I’m guessing she didn’t want to push it further than necessary. Sorry.

  4. Tom Carter |

    That’s perfectly reasonable. I’m sure her family in Iran could be persecuted for her having dared to voice opinions. Worse, we have enough wild-eyed Muslims in the U.S. to put her at risk personally.

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