Slogans play a key role in all political activities, whether they be local demonstrations, pickets, or mass movements. They have a decisive impact on political struggles, movements for reform, and revolution. They are not just words put on banners and placards. They help to orient and guide political activity. They help people reach their own conclusions.

Slogans have real, material consequences. They will advance a struggle or move it backward, separate or unite people.

In recent years, the chants, and slogans of Azaadi (freedom) and the pivotal slogan, ‘Down with Khamenei,’ have echoed nationwide, demonstrating the Iranian people’s overwhelming rejection of the ruling regime.

In response, the regime has tried to distract the people from using this slogan in their protests through divisionary slogans chanted by regime-organized bands posing as protesters. The most common among these slogans has been “Reza Shah, bless your soul,” a reference to detested Reza Khan, who was installed as the ‘Shah’ of Iran through a British-engineered coup in 1925.

When the allied forces occupied Iran in 1941, they decided to get rid of Reza Khan, who had shown sympathy with Hitler and installed his son, Mohammad Reza, as the next ‘Shah.’

As repressive as Reza Khan’s reign was, Mohammad Reza’s rule was even worse.

Ina 1974-1975 report, about the excesses of the Shah’s regime, Amnesty International wrote, “But perhaps the greatest causes of concern in the area are the continuing high incidence of official and unofficial executions in Iran. The situation of political prisoners in Iran has given Amnesty International an even greater cause of concern during the past year than in previous years. Although no official executions of political prisoners have been announced by the government, nine political prisoners, including seven adopted by AI, were allegedly “shot while trying to escape” in April 1975.”

Amnesty International added, “In July 1974, the Iranian government announced that 239 drug peddlers had been executed by firing squads in 2 ½ years. This large number of executions has caused particular concern because of the inadequacy of trial procedures in Iran.”

Elaborating on the number of political prisoners in Shah’s prisons, Amnesty wrote, “AI groups are working on 10 adoption cases and 89 investigation cases of Iranian prisoners. The total number of political prisoners has been reported at times throughout the year to be anything from 25,000 to 100,000 but AI is not able to make any reliable estimates.”

In its conclusion, Amnesty International referred to Iran, under control of the Shah’s regime, as a country, “where violations of human rights continue on a disturbing scale.”

In many ways, Iran’s current regime is continuing the same trend inherited from the Pahlavi regime. There is no doubt that the mullahs’ regime is far more inhumane and ruthless than the Shah’s regime, but the theocracy’s atrocities, as horrific and extensive as they are, cannot be invoked to whitewash the crimes of the Pahlavi dictatorship. For the Iranian people, the choice is not between the lesser of the two evils. To be more precise, the current religious tyranny is the true heir to the Shah’s military dictatorship. In other words, the cloak and the crown have been replaced with the turban and the robe.

The truth of the matter is that the millions of Iranians, who have had to endure tremendous hardship and suffering for over 40 years, reject any return to the past, they are looking to a free, democratic, and prosperous future where they can truly exercise their right to elect and get elected freely. One-man rule of any kind, be it a Monarchy or a theocracy, deprives of these essential rights.

Moreover, aside from the regime-organized thugs, and the very few remnants of the Shah’s regime living a comfortable life abroad, mainly in the U.S., there are no political representatives, no political spokespersons, no leaders, and, more importantly, no activists and adherents on the ground, who would be willing to take risks.

Interestingly, this fact was amplified in an article on September 16, 2018, in Baharestaneh, which is close to the Khamenei faction. “When there is talk about internal enemies like monarchists, although they have the desire to overthrow us, they do not meet the second condition, which is having the capability to translate that desire into reality. It is certain that no monarchist group has the capability to overthrow [the regime] because none of the monarchist individuals are prepared to have their nose bloodied for the sake of this objective let alone being killed on this path,” the outlet wrote.

For this simple reason, the slogan, “Reza Shah, bless your soul” does not pose any threat to the regime; Iran’s intelligence service has coined it in a bid to divert attention from the slogan that has targeted the regime’s foundation, “death to the Velayat-e Faqih (absolute rule of the clergy).