“The story of the Iranian revolution is similar to the story of other revolutions,” he said. “It was a restoration of people’s rights and liberties — people rose against the tyrannical regime of the shah.”
“The day after the revolution, Khomeini was facing the question: What is an Islamic republic?” Mr. Yazdi recalled. “I was in favor of a constitution and elections. They were against it. Khomeini was oscillating, but gradually he turned to the conservative side.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Yazdi remains an optimist. He says he sees more traditional thinkers taking an increasingly pragmatic view. He says that Iranian society is maturing, moving through a difficult stage on its way to constitutional democracy. Economic hardships now, he says he believes, are the sign many traditionalists need to accept changes.
“Iran is learning democracy,” he said, “because democracy is a learning process. Nobody will learn in a classroom. Democracy is not a commodity to be imported. America doesn’t carry democracy in its soldiers’ rucksacks. Democracy should come from within, through our own challenges and experiences.”
“Trial and error,” he said, of the people running the state now. “They have to do it by themselves, just to learn what they are doing doesn’t work. There is no other way.”
-An Iranian Revolutionary, Dismayed but Unbowed