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Unseen unity

Iranian students hold a poster of Lebanese Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, left, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, center, and American Malcolm X, left, as they listen to the speech of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega. AP PHOTO/HASAN SARBAKHSHIAN

Three photos you never saw

By Paul Lee

Special to The Michigan Citizen

Four months ago, on June 10, 2007, a stringer for the Associated Press (AP) shot a series of photographs during a speech by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at Tehran University in the Islamic Republic of Iran that few people in this nation ever saw — but should have.


Although they were made available through the AP’s worldwide news service, most U. S. and Western news publications and Web sites ignored them.

This is curious because the photos reveal something unknown to most Westerners — namely, that the Iranian government and students strongly identify with and celebrate revolutionaries from the Americas, which they have done since the overthrow of U. S.-backed dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.

At the “World Resistance Front” rally addressed by Ortega during his two-day visit, students held up posters of three Latin American revolutionaries: Cuban President Fidel Castro, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and martyred Cuban Commandante Ernesto (Che) Guevara.

Homegrown revolutionary

It would surprise most people in this nation to learn that the students also held up posters of Malcolm X, the U. S. Muslim and nationalist leader. However, this was far from the first, or even the most significant, tribute paid to Malcolm X by Iranians.

In 1984, the government of Grand Ayatullah Sayid Ruhullah Musawi Khomeini issued a stamp commemorating the “Universal Day of Struggle Against Race Discrimination” that featured a likeness of Malcolm X in prayer that highlighted his spiritual and revolutionary character.

This was 15 years before the U. S. Postal Service issued a stamp of a (retouched) photo of a haggard-looking Malcolm X, the description of which portrayed him as a reformist.

A common struggle

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (INRA), Ortega, whose Sandinista National Liberation Front (SNLF) overthrew the brutal U. S.-supported regime of Anastasio Somoza in 1979, pointed out in this speech that the struggles of Nicaragua and other Latin American nations are the same as those in the Middle East.

“We have begun a struggle for our independence and this is exactly what the Iranians, Palestinians and African nations are doing,” he said.

He declared that these peoples would never surrender to “bullying imperialism,” adding, “We are of the view that we should unite and become closer than ever to attain victory in view of such determination.”

Thanking God for his presence among the Iranian students, he noted, “Today we are witness to the new chapter of struggle of the nations and the increase in the awareness worldwide on the importance of unity and solidarity.”

Describing the 1979 revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua as “twin revolutions,” Ortega said that they have similar goals: justice, freedom, sovereignty and peace.

Freedom fist

In several of the AP photos, Ortega is shown raising a clinched fist. To many African Americans, this would evoke the “Black Power fist” that became popular during the mid-1960s and ‘70s.

Malcolm X was chiefly responsible for the resurgence of Black nationalism in the U. S., of which the Black Power movement was a modern variant.


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