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Iran's last queen, still hoping for a fairy-tale ending

Watching Iran's fierce anti-government demonstrations on TV this week, Farah Pahlavi has marveled at Farah2 how familiar it all seems, and yet how different. The young protesters are the same age as those who drove her husband Reza Pahlavi from power and chant some of the same slogans -- but there's one obvious difference. She hasn't seen a single demonstrator with a long beard, the trademark of the Islamic fundamentalists who seized power in Iran in 1979.

''Look at the faces of the young people in the streets, and compare them to the people who were demonstrating against us,'' says the last queen of Iran. ``These people are all clean-shaven. They don't have the long beards. After 30 years of this fanatical religious regime, they are turning away from it. They want freedom.''

Farah When Queen Farah and the shah left Tehran in 1979, after months of protest led by supporters of the fundamentalist Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's 2,500-year-old monarchy ended.

Now Queen Farah, hoping that the tables can be turned, is sending messages of support to anti-government forces in Tehran via e-mail and her website, farahpahlavi.org. She's not the only one -- demonstrators have been making so much use of the Internet that the Iranian government has tried to shut down sites like Twitter and Facebook. Queen Farah is dryly amused at the irony: Khomeini's supporters relied on the cutting-edge technology of another generation, cassette tapes, to circulate sermons calling for the overthrow of her husband.

''My son always said that these people came in on cassette tapes, and they'll go out on the Internet,'' she says.

Though she was happy to talk politics, Queen Farah was actually calling to promote an HBO2 documentary called The Queen And I. (It airs at 2:35 a.m. Monday and 3 p.m. June 29) Made by Iranian exile filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani, who as a teenaged Communist militant helped dethrone the shah, The Queen And I is a story of reconciliation between two women, once bitter opponents, who find themselves united by the pain of exile.

'The message of the film is, `Let's forget about our differences of the past, and different political ideologies, and think of tomorrow, and think of Iran,' '' Queen Farah says. ``That's exactly what we need.''


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