[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]


[Adapted from website:] Mashregh News

[Date:] 23 Azar 1399 [13 December 2020]


The Story of Haj Ismail Rezaie and the Pepsi Boycott

Haj Esmail Rezaie, who was executed along with Tayyeb, is one of the strangest and most interesting figures in contemporary history. He was a young man who had amassed great wealth through the fruit trade and had become a disciple of Ayatollah Kashani at a very young age!

According to Mashregh, he wrote the following at seven in the morning; it is well known that on the day of Ayatollah Kashani’s funeral, when a large crowd had come to [the Shrine of] Shah Abdol-Azim, he undertook the task of preparing lunch for the mass of mourners, and with his generosity, contacted the famous Haji Tarighat Kebab restaurant of Tehran and prepared thousands of food parcels for the mourners. He had a very close relationship with Ayatollah Borujerdi and, relying on his wealth, implemented some of the ayatollah’s [suggestions], including the building of a mosque in the Beseem-e Najafabad of Tehran, and building of houses for the needy, including the construction of 100 houses to shelter street women, separating them from their profession and improving their lives under the supervision of a few educated and religious women.

In the decade of the 1330s [1950s], one of the most important divisions between the clergy and the imperial court emerged: the [issue of the] Baha’is. The continued presence of Baha’is in government infrastructure and the growth of prominent Baha’i capitalists had worried Qom. The Baha’is’ dependence on the economic structure of the Pahlavi court grew deeper and stronger.

Capitalists conducted their business or sold products with the support of their European and American resources and partners. Meanwhile, Qom and Ayatollah Borujerdi strongly emphasized the prosperous implementation of the Mid-Sha’ban celebrations, as a way to strengthen the Shias against the Baha’is, a tradition that has been followed diligently since mid-Sha’ban 1323 (10 days after the death of Reza Shah [26 July 1944]).

In this regard, Haj Esmail Rezaie was always in the forefront. His involvement in the demolition of the Baha’i cemetery was one of these events, but his most important move came in the late 1330s [early 1960s], when Habib Sabet Pasal, the famous Baha’i capitalist, was expanding his activities day by day, and this point was not concealed from the eyes of the clergy. Sabet Pasal launched a private television station in Tehran in 1338 [1959] and gained thousands of Tehran subscribers within three years.

In such an endeavour, Haj Esmail Rezaie was also the first man on the field. At the height of the Pepsi boycott, near its factory, he built the Imam Zaman [Lord of the Age] Grand Mosque, [on the corner of Behboodi Street in Azadi Street) and then, in the same year, in a meaningful way, he paid the expenses of one of the biggest celebrations, with street lighting, in mid-Sha’ban in Tehran. The street celebration extended from Esfand Square (currently Revolution Square) to the Imam Zaman Mosque, which was located almost in front of the Pepsi factory.

It is well known that Tayyeb Haj Rezaie had become acquainted with Ayatollah Khomeini’s views through Haj Esmail Rezaie. In those years, Haj Esmail Rezaie had become deeply devoted to Ayatollah Khomeini. In any case, one of the reasons for the rotation of Tehran’s ruffians on 15 Khordad [5 June] in favour of the clergy was certainly the influence of Haj Esmail Rezaie (although we should not ignore the efforts of Mehdi Iraqi to mobilize large and usually hostile groups of Tayyeb and Hosein Ramazoun Yakhi at noon on Ashura 1342 [June 1963]).

Anyway, after 5 June, SAVAK immediately arrested Haj Esmail Rezaie at the construction site of one of his shopping malls in the south of the city. Haj Esmail Rezaie was executed at the age of 38, along with Tayyeb. He left more than one million tomans [in his] will, which was a staggering amount in 1342 [1963].