The Cost of Free Speech

The Ayatollah Khomeini (search) is long gone. But the legacy of the man who inspired the Islamic revolution in Iran lives on, and he remains a revered figure among many radical Muslims.

That’s why his grandson’s statements praising the U.S. invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam’s tyrannical regime shocked Muslims around the world. Hossein Khomeini didn’t mince words after visiting Iraq late last summer: "We consider [Iraq's liberation] as the arrival of goodness, and I hope the American people understand this," Mr. Khomeini told the Wall Street Journal in October.

But there is a cost for free speech, particularly among those whose homeland is controlled by a dictatorship. According to Mideast scholar Michael Ledeen, Hossein Khomeini was forced to cut short his tour praising the demise of Saddam’s regime after threats were made against his wife and children. Iranian security agents visited Khomeini’s wife after his statements about Iraq were publicized world-wide.

The secret police reportedly told her, “If your children die suddenly in the streets, you must know that it was not our doing.” Soon after his grandmother reported this encounter to Hossein Khomeini, he returned to Iran.

And that's the Asman Observer!