Former Iranian Minster Shapur Bakhtiar emerged from nearly six months hiding today (31 July) to speak to reporters in Paris.
SV & CU Former Iranian Prime Minster, Dr. Shapur Bakhtiar speaking in French as newsmen take notes (5 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Former Iranian Minster Shapur Bakhtiar emerged from nearly six months hiding today (31 July) to speak to reporters in Paris. Although he was appointed Prime minister by the Shah in January just before the Monarch flew in to exile, Bakhtiar was an outspoken critic of the Shah's policies. Today though he had harsh words for the new Islamic regime.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Bakhtiar attacked the new Islamic regime. He said Iran had become both a dictatorship and an economic disaster under the Ayatollah Khomeini. Mr. Bakhtiar said he predicted this outcome some months ago, but said he was surprised at the magnitude and speed of developments. "More damage has been done in the last six months than in the twenty-five years before", he said. "We Iranians fought against two things--against dictatorship and corruption--but one dictatorship has just been replaced by another," he added.
Although a Moslem himself, the former Prime Minster attacked the establishment of an Islamic Republic."If after fourteen hundred years Iran has not managed to become Moslem, then it is too late", he said, and added that religion should not interfere in affairs of state.
Mr. Bakhtiar served as Prime Minister for only a few weeks before he was force to flee during the February uprising which finally toppled the last vestiges of the Shah's regime. His whereabouts since have been a strict secret and Mr. Bakhtiar refused to give anything away today that could put his friends at risk. He was similarly evasive about his future plans, but pointed out that Free French leader Charles de Gaulle had worked from aborad in his fight against the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two. He admitted to bring in touch with people in Iran, but claimed he had no contact with the Iranian regime, his friend the current premier Mr. Bazargan or the Shah since the February revolution.