درگذشت فريدون هويدا، روشنفکر و ديپلمات ايرانی

Fereydoun Hoveyda - 1948



The Times of London November 14, 2006

Fereydoun Hoveyda


Iranian Ambassador to the UN whose world influence was undiminished by the upheavals of the revolution

Hoveyda proved to be a talented and prolific artist and writer
A MAN of unusual versatility, Fereydoun Hoveyda was equally at ease in the worlds of international politics and the arts.

He was a respected diplomat who commanded attention as a commentator on Islam and the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and he served as senior Fellow of the influential National Committee on American Foreign Policy, an organisation dedicated “to the resolution of conflicts that threaten US interests”.

As a young man Hoveyda had been involved with the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and, in the years before Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the Shah, he was Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations.


He was also a novelist, a screenwriter and an artist admired for inventive and witty collages and paintings. His novels, addressing issues of cultural identity, religion and nationhood, were well received.

His debut, Les Quarantaines (1962), written while he was working in Paris, was the first book by a non-French writer to be nominated for the Goncourt, France’s highest literary prize. The novel followed a French-educated Arab living in France during the Algerian war, and caught between his traditional Arab culture and his Western education.

It was a situation to which Hoveyda could relate in a personal fashion. He was born in Damascus in 1924, when Syria was under the French mandate. His father headed the small unofficial embassy that represented Iran’s Syrian interests, and while he progressed to more important diplomatic positions in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the young Fereydoun and his older brother, Amir-Abbas, remained in cosmopolitan Beirut to continue their education in French schools.

Their understanding of Middle Eastern politics was forged in a time of great turmoil — the rise of Arab nationalism, the spread of Nazi and communist ideologies, the growth of what would become the state of Israel, the emergence of new versions of Islamic radicalism, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, and a growing resistance to colonial domination as the fragments of the defunct Ottoman Empire strove to establish their distinct identities.

In 1945, after a brief stint in Tehran and flirtations with leftist and nationalist agitations, Hoveyda went to study at the Sorbonne. While there he took advantage of an opportunity to join his professor, René Cassin, in preparing for the San Francisco conference that established the UN. In 1948 he was awarded a doctorate in international law and economics, and, keen to remain in Paris, he became first a press attaché at the Iranian Embassy, and then, after 1951, joined Unesco’s Department of Mass Communications to co-ordinate the free flow of information in the developing countries.

It was during this period that he began to pursue his interests in film and literature more actively. He was a regular contributor to Mystère-Magazine, and his first book, a history of the detective novel, appeared in 1956 with a preface by Jean Cocteau. He also wrote for Les cahiers du cinéma, the influential magazine which in the early 1960s championed the “new wave” directors. He worked on several film projects, writing screenplays for Iranian and foreign film-makers, most notably Roberto Rossellini, collaborating on the script of his India: Matri Bhumi (1959).

Hoveyda was also briefly married to the daughter of a former Iranian Prime Minister, Touran Mansour. The union brought him closer to a group of young reformers led by Hassan-Ali Mansour, Touran’s elder brother, who became Prime Minister himself in 1964.

When Mansour was assassinated the following year, he was succeeded by Hoveyda’s brother, Amir-Abbas, and Hoveyda moved to Tehran to support him in implementing the Shah’s proposed economic and social reforms. Hoveyda was appointed deputy foreign minister in charge of international organisations, and, with his brother and the Shah, acted as a secret go-between between President Johnson and the North Vietnamese Government in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate the end of the war in Vietnam.

He was posted to New York in 1971 as Ambassador to the UN, and served as chairman of the UN Committee on International Disarmament for four years. His role in Iran’s diplomatic service ended in 1979 with the accession of Ayatollah Khomeini. Hoveyda’s brother was executed by Khomeini’s supporters that year. Hoveyda regarded this as murder and tried to come to terms with it in The Fall of the Shah (1980), an angry and personal account of the years leading up to the exiled Ayatollah’s victory.

Settling in the US, he concerned himself with the confrontation between Islam and modernity, lecturing and writing for French and American journals. His books included What Do the Arabs Want? (1991) and The Broken Crescent: The Threat of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism (1998). An overarching theme was his belief that cultures, civilisations, political and religious systems complement each other rather than merge together.

He lived his last years in northern Virginia, writing, painting and making his collages. His German-born wife, Gisela, whom he married in 1968, survives him, with two daughters.

Fereydoun Hoveyda, diplomat and writer, was born on September 21, 1924. He died on November 3, 2006, aged 82.



Fereydoun Hoveyda, 82, Shah’s Ambassador, Dies


Published: November 7, 2006 New York Times

Fereydoun Hoveyda, a former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations during the reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, died Friday at his home in Clifton, Va. He was 82. The cause was cancer, said his daughter Roxana Hoveyda.

Mr. Hoveyda represented Iran at the United Nations from 1971 until 1979, the year that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the revolution that overthrew the shah. As a young diplomat, Mr. Hoveyda participated in preparations for the 1945 San Francisco Conference, which adopted the charter of the United Nations, and two years later he helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On April 7, 1979, Mr. Hoveyda’s brother, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, a former prime minister under the shah, was executed. One month later, in a letter published in The New York Times,   Mr. Hoveyda called it a murder, “because no other word can be used for the kind of mock justice he was subjected to in the dead of night in front of masked ‘judges.’ ” His brother was prime minister for 13 years, until August 1977.

After being forced out of the Iranian Foreign Service, Mr. Hoveyda became a senior fellow at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He also wrote more than a dozen books, in English, French and German, including “The Broken Crescent: The Threat of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism” and “What Do the Arabs Want?”

Mr. Hoveyda was born in Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 21, 1924, the younger son of Habibollah Eynol-Molk Hoveyda, then the Iranian consul general to Syria, and Afsar-ol-Molouk Fatmeh. Mr. Hoveyda earned a Ph.D. in international law and economics at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Besides his daughter Roxana, of Clifton, Va., he is survived by his wife of 38 years, Gisela, and another daughter, Mandana Hoveyda, of New York City.


Fereydoon Hoveyda, one of Iran’s most internationally recognized intellectuals, writers and diplomats died on Friday, November 3, 2006 in his home, in the suburbs of Washington. The cause of death was cancer and post-operative complications.

 Fereydoon Hoveyda was a man of myriad talents. He was a film critic, and one of the early contributors to France’s most important film magazine, Cahiers de Cinema. He was also an award-winning novelist, an accomplished essayist, and last but not least a seasoned diplomat. He was, ultimately, a true aesthete, at home as much in the world of Sherlock Homes as in the poetry of Baudelaire or the short stories of Sadeq Hedayat. He was indefatigable in his search for both the beautiful in the realm of arts, and the truth, or truths, in the realm of society.  He was, himself by avocation a painter. His writings on the Freudian interpretation of Iranian history, and his discovery of the cultural tendency of fathers to kill sons were in their time a pioneering work. After the Islamic revolution, he offered a similar Freudian interpretation of the revolution as the replacement of one stern, unforgiving, despot father by another. Unless Iran comes to term with its craving for patronizing patriarchs, he believed, the country is only likely to repeat the cycle of despotism.

 His brilliance and his erudition, his curiosity and his compassion, his multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary approach and finally his insatiable thirst to learn made him a friend and interlocutor to some of twentieth century’s best and brightest artists. From Andy Warhol who did a portrait of him, to Pasolini who trusted his film aesthetics, and in Iran, from Sadeq Hedayat to Ebrahim Golestan considered him their friend.

 Long after he had established his reputation in Paris, when in 1965 his older brother, Amir Abbas Hoveyda became Iran’s prime minister, Fereydoon gave up his life as an intellectual in Paris for the life of an Iranian diplomat. He served for many years as Iran’s representative to the United Nations. Many of his intellectual friends considered those the least productive years of his life.

 He was born in Tehran in 1924. He went to school in Beirut, Damascus and Paris. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the brutal killing of his older brother, Amir Abbas in the hands of the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary trial left him with inconsolable grief. He is survived by his wife of Gisela and two daughters Mandana and Roxana.




درگذشت فريدون هويدا، روشنفکر و ديپلمات ايرانی

فريدون هويدا، نويسنده و روشنفکر ايرانی و نماينده ايران در سازمان ملل در دوران پهلوی، روز جمعه 3 نوامبر (12 آبان ماه) در سن هشتاد و چهار سالگی در خانه اش در حومه واشنگتن در آمريکا درگذشت.

فريدون هويدا در زمينه های مختلفی فعاليت می کرد. او منتقد فيلم، و يکی از اولين نويسندگان نشريه فرانسوی کايه دو سينما بود که از معتبرترين نشريات سينمايی فرانسه به شمار می رود. او همچنين رمان نويس، مقاله نويس و يک ديپلمات کارکشته بود.

فراتر از اين همه، اما، او يک هنرشناس بود. از دنيای شرلوک هولمز گرفته تا اشعار بودلر و داستان های کوتاه صادق هدايت، بر طيف وسيعی از گونه ها و آثار هنری تسلط داشت. زندگی او سراسر تلاش خستگی ناپذير بود به دنبال زيبايی در عالم هنر، و حقيقت در عرصه اجتماع.

فريدون هويدا خود نيز به طور غيرحرفه ای تفنن نقاشی می کرد. نوشته های او در باب تفسير فرويدی از تاريخ ايران، و نظرياتش در مورد پديده 'پسر کشی' به عنوان عنصری تکرار شونده در تاريخ و فرهنگ ايران، در زمان خود پيشرو بود.

پس از انقلاب اسلامی، وی تفسير مشابه فرويدی از انقلاب و جايگزين شدن يک پدر سختگير و خودکامه با ديگری ارايه داد. بنا به تحليل او، تا زمانی که ايران و ايرانيان ميل به پدرسالاری و پدرسالاران را کنار نگذارند، تنها سرنوشت محتمل کشور همان تکرار چرخه خودکامگی است.

از پازولينی تا هدايت

اشتياق سيری ناپذير فريدون هويدا به يادگيری و نگاه چند-فرهنگی وی به زمينه های گوناگون هنری، در کنار شخصيت پرمهر او، برايش دوستان بسياری از برخی برجسته ترين هنرمندان قرن بيستم به ارمغان آورده بود: از اندی وارهول گرفته، که پرتره ای از هويدا نيز کشيده بود؛ تا پازولينی، فيلمساز سرشناس ايتاليايی که زيبايی شناختی هويدا را ارج می نهاد.

در ميان هنزمندان ايرانی نيز از صادق هدايت گرفته تا ابراهيم گلستان، همه او را دوست خود می دانستند.

فريدون هويدا در سال 1965 ميلادی (1344 خورشيدی)، زمانی که برادر بزرگش امير عباس هويدا به مقام نخست وزيری ايران رسيد، از دنيای هنر به عالم سياست کشيده شد و پاريس را ترک کرد تا در نيويورک نماينده ايران در سازمان ملل متحده باشد.

بسياری نزديکان او، سال های فعاليت ديپلماتيک او را کم حاصل ترين سال های زندگی اش می دانند.

فريدون هويدا به سال 1922 ميلادی (1301 خورشيدی) در دمشق به دنيا آمد. وی تحصيلاتش را در بيروت، دمشق و پاريس دنبال کرد. از او دو فرزند دختر به جا مانده است.


An Obituary by AMIR TAHERI

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fereydoun Hoveyda 1924-2006

November 06, 2006
Iran va Jahan
Amir Tehari

Fereydoun Hoveyda’s book “Feudal Nights” starts with the description of a long walk in an autumnal New York with a friend during which both realise that they will never be what they had been without knowing what they will become. At the end of the walk, Hoveyda enters his empty apartment and hears the telephone ring. He picks up the receiver and hears an unknown voice shout: “Is that you?”

The question haunted Hoveyda for the rest of his life as he constantly posed the question: who any of us may really be? He expanded the question beyond its individual dimension to examine broader beings: the Iranian nation, the Middle Eastern family, Islam, the so-called Third World.

From the 1980s until his death in Virginia, the United States, on 3 November 2006 Hoveyda transformed himself from a professional diplomat and acclaimed novelist into one of the most original thinkers about the place of Islam in a world created and dominated by the non-Muslim powers of the West. Thanks to his amazingly vast reading - he could dig out nuggets from long forgotten obscure texts in half a dozen languages - he was always to offer a panorama of how ideas developed. Fluent in Persian, his mother tongue, Arabic, the language of his early schooling, French, in which he had obtained his doctorate, English, which had been his working language as a diplomat, and German, the language of his second wife and life-long companion Gisela, Hoveyda had direct access to almost all the cultures that mattered in his research.

Hoveyda had strong credentials to pose the question. He had been born in Damascus in 1924 when Syria was under the French mandate, where his father Ayn al-Molk, a career diplomat, headed the small unofficial embassy that represented Iran’s interests.

Hoveyda’s father had been a self-made man. Son of a pastry baker in Shiraz he had worked his way up the social ladder thanks to education and hard work, and ended up a government functionary in Tehran.

There he had managed to marry a minor Qajar princess in 1917 just seven years before a new one, Pahlavi replaced the old dynasty. The title Ayn al-Molk (Eye of he Kingdom) had come with the marriage as a gift from the Qajar Shah.

Despite the change of dynasty, Hoveyda senior’s career continued to progress and reached its peak when he was appointed Iran’s first full ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1931 where he served for four years during which he also had the title of Emir al-Hajj, or the head of Iranian pilgrims coming to Mecca for the Hajj rites each year.

Fereydoun, along with his elder brother Amir-Abbas and their mother, were left behind so that the boys could continue their education at French schools, first in Damascus and then in Beirut. This gave Fereydoun, in his own words, a balcony seat from which to watch the shaping of the many dramas that were to strike the Middle East in the coming decades.

He witnessed the rise of Arab nationalism, the spread of Nazi and Communist ideologies among Arab intellectuals, the growth of what would one day become the state of Israel in Palestine, the emergence of new versions of Islamic radicalism, notably one represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the rising tension against colonial presence and Western domination. Through all that time the Arab possessions of the defunct Ottoman Empire, carved into several new states, were desperately trying to establish their distinct identities.

Unlike most of his schoolmates in Damascus and Beirut, Fereydoun never became obsessed by politics. The reason for this was that he had discovered another field of interest: cinema, which he considered an alternative reality.

By the time the Second World had started the Hoveydas were back in Tehran where Amir-Abbas then aged 21 joined the army as a conscript. Fereydoun, too young to be called up, remained in Beirut to complete his schooling supervised by Iranian friends of the family.

Back in Tehran at the end of the war in 1945, Fereydoun was briefly involved in the leftist and nationalist agitations that were to crescendo into the oil nationalisation movement of 1950-51. But, before he had time to find an anchor in what was a particularly stormy time, the young Hoveyda had to pack his bag and leave for Europe to pursue his studies in Paris.

His encounter with Paris was “ love at first sight”, and the French capital always retained a special place in his heart. It was in Paris that he made some of his longest lasting friendships, including with Henri Masse, Henry Corbin, Raymond Aron, Maxime Rodinson, Claude Bourdet, and the exile Iranian novelist Sadegh Hedayat.

Having obtained his doctorate in economics, Hoveyda managed to secure a position in the press office of the Iranian embassy in Paris, allowing him to stay in his favourite city for almost a decade, including a stint with UNESCO.

It was also in Paris that he had his first exposure to high diplomacy when he was included in a three-man delegation representing Iran in a preliminary conference on human rights. That was the start of Hoveyda’s long association with human rights issues. In 1949 he was part of the Iranian delegation at a conference that wrote and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human, Rights. And in 1968, Hoveyda was one of the principal authors of the Tehran Declaration, an international conference that marked the 20th anniversary of the charter.

While in Paris, Hoveyda met and married his first wife, Touran Mansour, whose father had been a prime minister of Iran in the 1940s. The marriage proved unhappy and brief, but helped bring Hoveyda closer to a group of young reformers led by Hassan-Ali Mansour, Touran’s elder brother who was to become Prime Minister in 1964.

It was in also Paris that Hoveyda wrote his first novel “Les Quarantines” (The Quarantines) in French. Published by Gallimard, “ Les Quarantaines” was the first novel written by a non-French writer to be nominated for a Goncourt, France’s highest literary prize.

Even today, “Les Quarantaines” remains one of the most original novels of its time with the perpetual failure of understanding between the Muslim East and the largely secularised West as a background theme against which the lives of three individuals change for ever during a dinner party hosted by a wealthy Parisian lady.

“Les Quarantaines” was followed by a number of other novels, including “Airport”, “In A Strange Land”, and “ The Snows of Sinai”, all published by Gallimard. Hoveyda is also the author of several essays, including “ Iranian Oil”, a passionate plea for nationalisation, published in 1951, “ The Eroticism of the One Thousand and One Nights”, and “ A History of Detective Novels.”

In the mid-1960s Hoveyda was persuaded to abandon his UNESCO career and return to Iran to re-join the diplomatic service. Those were the days of great hopes about the Shah’s proposed reforms known as “ The White Revolution” which included a change of generation of people in charge of the government. That generational change enabled Hoveyda’s elder brother Amir-Abbas to assume the position of prime minister in 1965.

Now a confirmed member of the Iranian diplomatic corps, Fereydoun Hoveyda soon established himself as a key figure in the foreign ministry, rising to become deputy minister for international organisations. In 1971, Hoveyda was sent to New York to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations, a post he resigned in 1979 after the establishment of an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini

The end of the 1960s had also marked the stabilisation of Hoveyda’s private life with his second marriage, to German-born Gisela who remained at his side until the very end.

During his term at the UN, Fereydoun played a crucial role in promoting detente between the two superpowers and served as chairman of the disarmament commission for four years.

Having tried from diplomacy, Hoveyda devoted himself to a vast research into the confrontation between Islam and modernity. This led to scores of learned essays published in French and American journals, as well as lectures and conferences delivered at a dozen universities across the globe.

In 1980 he published his “ The Fall of the Shah”, a fast-paced a narrative of the Khomeinist revolution propelled by Hoveyda’s anger at the execution of his brother Amir-Abbas in Tehran in April 1979. That was followed by a more extensive dip into the Khomeinist universe in the form of a parable under the title of “ The Mirrors of the Mullah”. A decade later, followed “The Broken Crescent”, a study in political violence in Islamic history”, the first book that Hoveyda wrote in English. His other books in English include “ The Shah and the Ayatollah”, an attempt at understanding modern Iran through a juxtaposition of ancient Persian myths and more recent Islamic traditions.

In the 1990s Hoveyda joined the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) and became a member of its executive board while directing its special programmes on the Middle East and the Muslim world in general.

Hoveyda’s love of cinema and images in general was reflected in several screenplays he wrote for Iranian and foreign film-makes, including Roberto Rosselini. In the 1980s, Hoveyda also revealed another aspect of his talent by producing a series of paintings and collages that won the admiration of such renowned American modernists as Andy Warhol and the Irano-American poet and painter Manuchehr Yektai.

Hoveyda, who died after a long fight against cancer, is survived by his wife Gisela and their two daughters Mandana and Roxana.

Feredyoun Hoveyda : diplomat and writer
Born: 1924 Damascus, Syria.
Died: 2006, Virginia, United States.

The last of the Mohicans

by Ahreeman X




Signed, sealed & delivered
Casting the affirmative vote for Iran in approving the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
August 12, 2005

Ambassadors vs. Ambassador
The Unites States and the United Nations
April 9, 2005

The piano and its stool
How to reform the United Nations
March 22, 2005

A film buff remembers
A book every movie fan should buy
September 3, 2004

Same planet, different millennium
Westerners and Muslims, though living on the same planet and entertaining many contacts, are not contemporaries
April 6, 2004

Only vegetables have roots
What is needed now is a Declaration of Human Unity
March 15, 2004

Media mirage
American journalists and Iranian elections
March 5, 2004

A mystery unravelled
What is it that keeps the IRI in place?
February 13, 2004

Mossadegh saved the Shah
The prime minister's inaction paved the way for the Shah's return to power in 1953
September 9, 2003

The morning after
Sadegh Hedayat at the dawn of the atomic age
August 7, 2003

Monarchy and theocracy
The Impact of Iranian mythology on the Islamic revolution
April 25, 2003

Escape from earth
Noah Syndrome

February 7, 2003

Poor Grand Ayatollah!
On Montazeri's release
February 3, 2003

Italian writer's hatred of Islam has roots in medieval Europe
January 23, 2003

Five o'clock tea
From my student's days in Beirut
August 7, 2002

100 years gone in a minute
From a forgotten twenty-year-old file
July 30, 2002

Open your eyes
High time for Muslims to reject once antiquated clerics and leaders
July 18, 2002

Too beautiful?
A free and prosperous Palestinian state?
July 3, 2002

Quest for peace
My secret mission to end the Vietnam War
March 12, 2002

Pursuit of happiness
Iran and the American Revolution
February 11, 2002

The dinosaur
... and the molla
May 3, 2001

Organized corruption
Why the Iranian economy is almost beyond repair
April 12, 2001

Shah or president?
We should reject hereditary systems of government
March 14, 2001

Read or watch?
That is the question in the age of computers
October 27, 2000

Curbing men
Equal sharing of sexual morality
October 27, 2000

Salt desert tree
Artist leaves mark in Utah desert
September 25, 2000

Free elections, 1979
My last audience with the Shah
August 18, 2000

Still an optimist
Despite a general lack of faith in the future
August 9, 2000

Mystery report
It could have prevented the invasion of Iran in World War II
April 6, 2000

Here to stay
Lamenting our lost roots is unproductive
December 21, 1999

Catching up
The Muslim world at the threshold of the third millennium
October 5, 1999

Changing mindsets
Opening closed societies to democracy
August 5, 1999

1999 not 1979
Protest movement has no recognized leader
July 20, 1999

Saving Jews
The Iranian "Schindler List"
July 9, 1999

To top

The author
Fereydoun Hoveyda ( is a Senior Fellow at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. As a young Iranian diplomat , he was involved in the preparatory work for the San Francisco Conference that adopted the Charter of the U.N. (1945) In 1947 and 1948 he participated in the drafting and voting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From 1952 to 1966 he became an international civil servant in UNESCO's Department of Mass Communications where he specialized in development of free flow of information in the developing countries. From 1966 to 1970 he represented Iran in the annual General Assembly sessions of the U.N , as Iranian deputy foreign minister in charge of international organizations . From 1971 to 1979 , he served as Iran's ambassador and chief delegate to the United Nations. He is the author of The Broken Crescent: The Threat of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism (2002), The Shah and the Ayatollah, Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution (2003).


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