An interview with Mohammadali Hajimoniri

Isfahan Student’s Movement (6)

Mehdi Amani Yamin
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


  • Mr. Hajimoniri!, how did you do graffiti, besides announcements and declarations?

As long as I can remember, graffiti was just doing in the toilets and I can’t remember elsewhere that I have seen. It should be noted, of course, that political climate of year 57 (1978-79) and initial state of revolution is another issue, and it is not our intended purpose. We are talking about those times. I mean the time of year 56 (1977-78), in month of Mehr, Aban, and Azar (October, November, and December). There was not any graffiti besides inside of toilets. Because we wanted to write declarations on the wall of dormitory or apartment 6 or amphitheater, but we did not have any colors and tools.  The amphitheater whose all walls were built by concrete material and we were not able to write on them, it needed to be written by white color that we didn’t have, and the pen also was not suitable to write. The interior walls of the dormitory and apartment 6 were painted, and there were a lot of rooms in these long halls, and front doors of rooms could be opened toward halls and nobody took risk to write declaration on walls of halls.  If someone saw the staffs and informers of SAVAK, you could be revealed by SAVAK, and naturally you were not able to write on the walls of halls. So I cannot remember that I have seen, but there were a lot of graffiti on the walls of toilets.


  • What was the message content of graffiti and slogans?

 I remember that some poems and slogans were written more, such as "Death to the Shah", "Long Live Khomeini"; the poems, those were mostly political in that time, were such as poems of Shafiee Kadkani, Roshangar Etehad, and Ahmad Shamloo. Short poems were written by these poets. I remember that I saw, and religious students wrote “Long Live Khomeini or down with the Shah”. Leftist students also wrote these kinds of poems, but their poem, as I said, were mostly poetically.


  • When was the graffiti more visible in public places?

I think, maybe, it was year 57. Graffiti was very common in the months of Mehr, Aban and Azar in 1357.


  • In fact, was it happened after on Shahrivar (September) 16th, 17th and 19 in the year 57?

Yes, of course, we were involved in some problems, so it caused that we were not at university on Khordad 1357 (June 1978). Before expelled from university, graffiti was not very common still there. There were not also graffiti in the month of urdibehesht and khordad (May & June), and actually graffiti was started in two or three month before of revelation. In that time, climate of revolution was opened and we could see the graffiti.


  • How was your relation with Isfahan University in the year 56?

I went to Isfahan University once in Aban 1356.


  • What about special ceremony? 


No, it was supposed to be formed a film group. When the Corporate competitions were going to be formed at university, the university was one the proposer of this cooperate activities. By relating to other universities, Students considered that there were other activities, so they tried to start these kinds of activities. Students wanted from university to take a room, and they said we wanted to do corporate activates, and university did not disagree with them, and university officials also knew about the end of this direction, because they had experienced it  in other universities as well, and perhaps they liked it to be done. Of course I thought and concluded about it later. Because activists of university could be known by cooperate activates. They agreed on request of our group and give a room us. The authorities responded about this request: “ok, is very good, which room do you want?”

Then, one of authorities who were in charge of dormitories would come and behold the students who were there, and recognize them. Of course I realized this point latter. In this way, a film room and then music room was also created. The film room was followed by religious students. Religious students did not intend to music, so they intended to film to be kept from leftist students. It is like the old saying: “some good works are not for good intention, but they are for rancor”.



  • Had you gone to Isfahan University for that issue?


One of the Yazd students, who were leaders in religious movement, formed the theater group. His name was “Hassan Khurshid” who later became the head of Radio and TV organization in Yazd province for short time. He was one of religious students. Of course, I have heard about him such news, but now I don’t know that he still is in his position or not. But the last news that I have heard about him was that he is the head of Radio and TV organization. However, I don’t know exactly. Besides him, Kazem Fotuhi was another student in this field who was died in the war. We were to create the film and theater group with them.    

Besides me, Ali Shaianfar (God bless him), who was executed, was also another religious student whom wanted to create the film group with, and as I said, Kazem Fotuhi was also another student who was became a martyr in the war I think. Kazem, Ali and I went to Tehran University for achieving information from students there and would be able to work in the field of film in our university. This event occurred in Aban 56. 



  • If you wanted create the film room to spite the leftists, is it meant that you had classifications in student’s movement? 

Yes. But there were no outstanding classifications. It was not meant that we did not work in this field. There were close relations among students. It was not that we stopped the activity of leftists and struggled with them. Some struggles were raised by such activities at the university in the year 58-59(1980-81). We closed the doors and were at each other's throats. Now I can understand the concept of convergent and divergent society, I did not know about it in that time.  It is interesting that I have never read ant subject about convergent and divergent society; it was formed by these events in my mind. I have never read any things about it, I concluded it myself from those events and this is my own interpretation.


  • Finally, did you establish and lead the film group?

We did not certain works to establish group, we just got a room at university, and kazem who was from Yazd and was roommate with Hassan Khurshid, brought some films from Tehran. Once, we went to Isfahan University and once we came to Tehran, and received them from Polytechnic University and showed them in there.


  • What were the names of films?  

I can remember the name of films. These were 16 millimeters films.


  • Apparently SAVAK have been informed about a play, was play performed by that group?

The name of play was “Dictation”[1] that was practiced in the theater group and play in the stage and it was written by “Gholam Hossein Saeedi”. The play “Reich´s misery” was another theater that they performed. First theater in that time made special climate at university.

All theater was playing in the amphitheater of university, and a lot of students went to see the theater and it performed in two nights. But film was not like that; it was showed once, and forbidden to show for more than once.


  • Was it showed only one time totally?

Yes, it was showed once.  


  • Do you remember what the name of a film was?

Although I was a projectionist, I do not remember the name of film. We showed the film in one of the halls. In other words, our purpose was to bring students to these events. Even we spent the money and time to persuade the students into political movements.  


  • Who supported you when you were doing these works?

No, there is no any supporter for us, especially for me. We usually decided about the issues in our group. If someone suggested a film that was in another place, we would go there and provide it. I never suggested any film. Kazem and Farzad made suggestion of film group. Farzad Shahabian was one of the roommates and top religious students and later became one of the religious leaders at University. Now he is a university professor and was deputy at University of Mashhad for short time. He was received scholarship to continue education and take PhD degree in England. Farzad was one of the religious intellectual students who made suggestion of film group with kazem Fotuhi. They had private relation with associations of other university, so we could be related there, but i don’t know about their relation with organizational relation.  


  • Don’t you know certain information about the relation of the university student group with political parties including clergy and leftist group in outside and that who were mediator?

I didn’t know about leftist movements. We got relation with some Isfahan’s religious students and scholars such as Saeid Mehdi Mousavi. We had established these relations ourselves. We communicated with Najaf Abad and movements of Mr. Montazeri and clergy there. But it was not someone ordered and decided from the outside or we connected to other organization or get direction and give us a direction.  Maybe, talking with other students in the Isfahan city was able to provide more idea in our mind, but decisions were not taken in there. It would be taken by university student. For me it was like that.

Very often, I was as a recommender, and I knew that I did not have any organizational communication. When political activity was taking shape, it was spontaneous, and students who would cooperate in activities mostly, were coming into these movement. We spent our time and used of scholarship in this way, and came back from holiday. We tried to come back in midnight to be arrived in Isfahan on Saturday morning and come in class. We were tired in class, so it did not have advantage for us. There was no money and no praise, and also we were always afraid to be leaked and revealed. I remember that we bought the book “Nahj al-balaghah” with two of students that we are four friends totally. For example, Nahj al-balaghah was very sensitive. Nahj al-balaghah! In the road to Tehran where the bus should be stopped in the police station, one military person usually came into bus and saw the passengers, and they were very sensitive for two groups; smugglers and and political activists. They used to ask some passengers who were look like guerrillas, for example a young one grew beard already but did not shave it:  “ where are you from?”, and then they disembarked him from bus and said: “ who are you? And what is your job? Where is your bag?”

Once, we had stopped in a police station neat to Qom city. We had just a Nahj al-balaghah and we had not anything else. Ali and I were arrested and taken to station and they kept us for 4-5 hours and then we were rescued.


  • What’s happened to Nahj al-balaghah?  

It was taken. We came to Isfahan, and I think we were four of students, after that the student didn’t have courage to put certain books in the bag, because when the bag was taken, we would be leaked and revealed. The buses were always stopped in there. When we came to university, this issue certainly could be raised and no one did dare to carry the books in his bag, and bring it and finally to be revealed. In these circumstances, we said to other friends that lets go and bring one box of the books “Nahj al-balaghah”. No one did have courage to bring these books. We also went to Tehran and bought 60 volumes of book “Nahj al-balaghah” from street of Naser Khosrow at personal expense. We usually make a box and put some different books (Khwarizmi publication books) on it and then put the books “Nahj al-balaghah” under them. Khwarizmi publication books were at the top of box, and books of Nahj al-balaghah were under them because they were very small and it could help the books “Nahj al-balaghah” would not be leaked and revealed. Also we did not close the door of box completely; we just close it by anything to see the books that were at the top of the box. With this method, it was not necessary to open the box and to hide books; it was not a problem even if they want to see the books in the police station.

We did this work and four of us collect the moneys and scholarships and went to Tehran and bought the books. No one give money and we were not going to take the money from someone. You know that it means the intention was something else. Actually, we always had a sense of commitment, responsibility and task. But the word “task” is also new, and is not for that time. We used of the word “responsibility” instead of “task”.


  • Was there the principle of enjoining good and forbidding wrong?

No, there was not so much. There was “responsibility”. There were some books about this issue written by doctor Shariati that three words were printed on cover of it: conscious and unconscious human and responsibility. It was a speech but cannot be a tape. It was made a book by offset printing and manuscript and poly copy that distributing in these forms. I do remember that the term “responsibility” was using more than other words and the term “task” and “enjoining good and forbidding wrong was using less.


  • Was the term spiritual reward” (Sawāb) also used?

No, it was not. Just the word “responsibility” was using. We had one responsibility when we learn more, we felt more responsibility. But I did not about leftists, when I read a leftist book in which I saw the word “pioneering responsibility” instead of “responsibility” and they believed to achieve it. But we used of the word “responsibility” and believed that human is responsible. Religious and leftist student differences were not in this issue. Our opinion was something that exists also in the book of “a beam of the Quran” emphasized on a human responsibility and it was defined. But leftists did not believe in human responsibility and they believe in pioneering responsibility. They analyze the reason of their works and said that they must be able to justify, interpret and explain them in dialectics and class analysis. So they were believed to pioneering responsibility which means that pioneering has a responsibility to aware and enlighten society and find their way and step this way. But religious students believed in human responsibility. The human being is a creature who is in charge and responsible and have been created like this. These were issue that has mentioned in book of ‘a beam of the Quran” and Shariati´s book.


  • The important thing is that, was this interpretation based on your political and religious thought?

Yes, exactly. This was the source and basis of our thinking and we believed we had responsibility, and we spent money and everything we had and cost to it.


To be continued…


[1] The full name of play is “Dictation and Angle”. 

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