Magazine February 9, 2009, Issue

A Tour of Unreality

Iranian pilgrims look at pictures of the late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini at the former home of Khomeini in Najaf, Iraq. (Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)
The Persian Night: Iran under the Khomeinist Revolution, by Amir Taheri (Encounter , 300 pp., $25.95)

Present-day Iran is a glaring example of the human propensity to do harm in the belief that one is doing good. The country has been hijacked and shaken out of its course by people with a claim to a vision of perfection. Self-righteous ideologues, they are like others of the kind in other countries at other times: Their true goal is absolute power. What sets the Iranians apart is that they are Shiites, a minority within Islam with a specific doctrine stating that an imam in the 10th century went into hiding and that mankind has to convert to Islam,

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