Moustaches, Walter Benjamin and the eternal defeat of the Iranian Left.
Thousands of years ago a punishment for Iranian aristocrats that rebelled against the king, was to have their moustache shaved off. This was a form of execution In many cases, they would then rather die alone somewhere, than return in such an ugly state to the city. One can’t help thinking that the followers of the proto communist Mazdak must have been treated like this, when their rebellion was finally crushed by Anoushiravan the Sassanid.
I was watching an interview on one of the lefty exile Iranian TV channels with a guy who survived the 1988 prison massacres in Iran (he was in Gohar Dasht) last night.
Interestingly that moustache thing (the shaving of the moustache as a form of punishment or shame) that has a three thousand year odd hsitory in Iran was used even then.
He said he avoided execution by a combination of luck, and breaking under torture, then asking for forgiveness and “returning to Islam”.
He still didnt want to pray though,as a matter of pride and principle; so they gave him seventy five lashes for every missed prayer. Ironically, something he avoided whilst professing to be a marxist, as he was in the block for apostates. The “Elteqati” (eclectic) or “Inherafi” (deviated) Muslims (i.e. those who had fallen out with the regime) being held in different blocks so as not to come into contact with, what they called this “nejasat” (ritual uncleanliness) of communists.
Having been moved, he had to prove his “conversion”. He said he often couldnt get past the first fifteen or so lashes, and would pass out.
The guards would then bring him round and shave half his moustache off as a form of humiliation.
Long Live Iran, eh.