Interview with Valiollah Ahmadi

I met Imam at Pahlavi prison

Ehsan Mansouri
Translated by Abbass Haji Hashemi

2016-2-21


Note: Valiollah Ahmadi, 72, has a thick voice that betrays an enormous bulk of life experiences in his chest. He walks with a stick and never shaves the smile on his face. He lives in an old neighborhood in the central western city of Arak and is spending his retirement with his wife. He is but an active man and never misses a religious gathering.

It was difficult for me to believe he was once a member of the Fadaeiyan-e Eslam (Devotees of Islam) Society and met imam in the prison while he was the man who established the city's first theater and was closely in contact with the late Ayatollah Meshkini. What follows is a little piece of Mr. Ahmadi's adventurous life and his views about certain historical events.

 

-What brought you to religious circles?

I used to watch a lot of epic plays. I also attended religious mops in Tehran. There was this mop called the Qamar Bani Hashem congregation which belonged to the society. Once I went to the mop's place, guards raided the gathering and squeezed everyone in a bus except for me and my friend. Can you imagine? They took everyone but us!

 

-In what year?

It was in the 70s.

 

-What was the fate of the detainees?

They were never seen or heard of again. I heard they were taken to a desert in the central city of Qom or Hamedan. We searched for them everywhere; we were short of resources, however. We were broke already and no one knew us. We were just kids at that time.

 

-How old were you?

I am now 72. I was born in 1943. This story belongs to some 53 years ago. I was like 17 or 18 at that time. I saw imam at Qasr Prison. I was kept at a temporary cell. I was being kept with this guy who introduced himself as Mr. Tabatabaei. "Do not worry," he said to me. "Do you see that gentleman sitting over there? … He is Ayatollah Khomeini." At that time I had chosen to follow suit of Imam Khomeini in my religious activities without even having seen him in person. I had just heard about his greatness and had chosen to follow him. When I saw him in the prison, he had black and grey beard and didn’t look old and when he got up looked very young and energetic.

 

-Why were you being detained?

Well I was detained because I had shouted "Death to Shah". They asked me what I had said and I told them exactly what I had just did and they were shocked to see my fervid candor. I told them, the guards, "you are being remunerated by the Shah and you must support him; so do what you should and let me do what I should". I was arrested several times. I never regret my attitude. During the revolution days, I bought Chadors for the female demonstrators to cover their hair and bodies. People said I was crazy but I never stopped doing it.

I was also interested in artistic activities and held the first plays in the city of Arak. I was not from Arak; I was from Tehran. But when I went there, people began to respect me as a follower of Imam Khomeini. Later on, I opened a painting shop and became known as "Vali, the Painter" in the city. Even today, some old friends call me that. During the Iran-Iraq was I arranged plays as well. The plays before the Islamic Revolution were mostly focused on social problems and the Pahlavi regime's misconduct and treason acts.

I was very fervent supporter of Imam Khomeini's cause at that time, as I am today, and remember I once slammed this guy who prayed for the Shah. I told him to shot him mouth. Many people, about 500, attended the first play which was a comedy show with satirical content.

 

-Didn’t the guards bother your plays?

Yes, we would run away every time they arrived. The play led to a demonstration the day after.

 

-How may plays did you arrange before the revolution?

I suppose I arranged 60 to 65 plays totally of which 18 were arranged during the war and two were carried out before the revolution.



 
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