The attendees claimed that they were seeking a secular and democratic society in Iran, but their true intentions were brought to light through the posters they carried. The crowd carried a portrait of Reza Pahlavi and a picture of Parviz Sabeti, the former head of the Internal Security Division of the SAVAK, Shah’s secret police.
The SAVAK is notorious for its brutality and the use of torture against dissidents and intellectuals who opposed the former monarchial dictatorship. The poster of Sabeti had the words, “Nightmare of future terrorists,” referencing Sabeti’s statement in 1978 that SAVAK should not be dissolved; otherwise, there would be havoc in the country.
The supporters of Pahlavi had been mobilizing crowds throughout Europe and implying that several thousand—if not tens of thousands—people would attend the rally. Despite the wide range of media coverage, only a few hundred showed up in front of the Munich Security Conference. The low turnout showed that this was a muscle-flexing attempt to exaggerate Reza Pahlavi’s political weight and intimidate the Iranian diaspora who disagree with him
Last week, a rally was held in Los Angeles, which was addressed by Reza Pahlavi. People who associate themselves with the so-called monarchical movement had claimed that 80,000—180,000 by some accounts—had gathered in Los Angeles City Hall.
These figures were amplified by some Persian-speaking media outlets, referencing an article in the Los Angeles Times to back up their claims of turnout that contradicted the local police’s account of three to four thousand.
After the media spectacle, several Iranians who had participated in the rally posted footage on social media stating that they regretted having taken part in a rally that was supposed to express support for the Iranian people but was rather hijacked by the monarchists and used as a stage to promote particular slogans and showcase posters of Reza Pahlavi and his heir.
While the incident in Munich may seem small and unimportant, it serves as a reminder that the road to freedom is uneven, and the Iranian people will ultimately determine their country’s future.