His belief in freedom of expression was total. One of the first orders, ten days after becoming the prime minister, he issued to the chief of the police was that “in Iranian press, whatever people write about me, no matter what or by whom, no one should interfere with their freedom"
Fifty nine years ago, on August 19, 1953, the legally elected government of Iran, headed by Dr Mossaddeq, was overthrown in a US-backed coup. The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah, who had fled the country, returned triumphantly after the coup.
Dr Mossaddeq, the deposed prime minister, after a show trial was jailed for three years. For the rest of his life, he was effectively under house arrest in Ahmadabad, a village near Tehran. He died in 1966.
It is true that the coup was a brain child of London. The UK had lost a case against Iran when Dr Mossaddeq’s government moved the International Tribunal in the Hague. However, the coup would have been unfeasible without a helping hand by the CIA. While it is true the foreign hand played a key role in the coup, I argue that Iranian elites who did not like Mossaddeq's approach to politics and could not live under his arrangements were the main culprits. Why?
These are my reasons:
- Anyone familiar with Iran's modern history knows that politicians in Iran, almost all of them, see positions in the government as means of enriching themselves. There is one exception though: Dr Mossaddeq and his close friends and political colleagues. In the past 59 years, the monarchists--- 1953-1979---and their Islamic successors--- 1979 onwards---left no stone unturned but could not find a single evidence showing financial corruption by Dr Mossaddeq or his close friends in his government. Just compare Dr Mossaddeq with those who came after him or were in power before him to see the difference.
- His respect for law was exemplary whether during his tenure as the prime minister or at any other time in his long political life. When under Reza Shah a law was passed obliging the Iranian males to wear a special hat, called "Pahlavi's Hat", Mossaddeq stayed home for about nine months. When asked why, he replied, he did not want to violate the ‘law’ and at the same time he had no desire to give in to this super stupid idea!
- His belief in freedom of expression was total. One of the first orders, ten days after becoming the prime minister, he issued to the chief of the police was that “in Iranian press, whatever people write about me, no matter what or by whom, no one should interfere with their freedom". During his term, he maintained this simple rule to the full. During the two years and 8 months of Dr Mossaddeq’s government, there were at least 70 opposition newspapers, none closed or banned. Again make a comparison with the Shah's time, or with the more recent times in Iran since his downfall.
Alas! Not only the USA and the UK did not like these developments, there were many Iranians who could not live with them either. It is this convergence of interests that triggered a disgraceful coup against Dr Mossaddeq. Among my compatriots, those who still support that coup, should face the fact that apart from a despotic government that ruled over Iran between 1953-1979, it also paved the way for the emergence of a new despotism, this time under the banner of religion, that calls itself the "Islamic Republic of Iran".
Let me finish by pointing out one of his impressive acts. Having won the battle in The Hague when he returned home, he was told that Iranians would like to express their gratitude by erecting his statue in Tehran. His blunt response was: “I declare with a loud voice that would echo even after my death that God and Prophet’s curse be upon those who wish to erect any idol under my name whether during my life time or after my death. I have not yet completed my wish and when I do, that is my duty to my motherland and doing my duties- as everyone should do- I do not wish to be given any rewards”.
I leave it to you to judge.References:
 Speeches and Letters of Mossaddeq, vol 2, section 3, Mossaddeq Press, Esfand 1350, p. 50.