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Iranian Revolution

Iranian Revolution
(Islamic Revolution,
1979 Revolution)
انقلاب اسلامی
Protesters around Shahyad Tower (later Azadi Tower), Tehran, 1979
Date January 1978 – February 1979
Location Iran
Goals Overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
532[1]-2,781 killed in demonstrations during 1978–79[2][3]

The Iranian Revolution (also known as the Islamic Revolution or the 1979 Revolution;[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Preceded by
Pahlavi dynasty
Islamic Revolution
Succeeded by
Islamic Republic
  • 33rd anniversary of Iran Islamic Revolution (PressTV 2012)
  • Iran: Revolution and Beyond – slideshow by Life magazine
  • by Akbar Nazemi
  • Islamic Revolution, Photos by Kaveh Golestan
  • Photos from Kave Kazemi
  • The Islamic Revolution in Pictures
  • Islamic revolution in pictures, BBC World
  • Slideshow with audio commentary of the legacy of Islamic revolution after 30 years
  • Pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the revolution, Shah and wife in Morocco
  • Video Archive of Islamic Revolution
  • Documentary: Anatomy of a Revolution
In pictures and videos
  • Robin Wright, "The Last Great Revolution Turmoil and Transformation in Iran," The New York Times.
  • Bernard Lewis, "Islamic Revolution,", The New York Review of Books (January 21, 1988).
  • Islamic Revolution: An Exchange by Abbas Milani, with reply by Bernard Lewis
  • What Are the Iranians Dreaming About? by Michel Foucault
  • The Seductions of Islamism, Revisiting Foucault and the Islamic Revolution by Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson, New Politics, vol. 10, no. 1, whole no. 37 (Summer 2004).
  • Moojan Momen, "The Religious Background of the 1979 Revolution in Iran"
  • Elmer Swenson, What Happens When Islamists Take Power? The Case of Iran, Last Updated: 6-27-2005.
  • The Islamic Revolution by Ted Grant, "In Defence of Marxism" website, International Marxist Tendency (Friday, February 9, 1979).
  • Class Analysis of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 by Satya J. Gabriel
  • The Cause of The Islamic Revolution by Jon Curme
  • History of Undefeated, A few words in commemoration of the 1979 Revolution By Mansoor Hekmat, Communist Thinker and Revolutionary
  • Revolution and Counter-revolution in Iran by HKS, Iranian Socialist Workers Party
Analytical articles
  • The Story of the Revolution – a detailed web resource from the BBC World Service Persian Branch
  • The Reunion – The Shah of Iran's Court – BBC Radio 4 an audio program featuring the pre-Revolutionary elite
  • Brzezinski's role in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Payvand News, March 10, 2006.
  • The Islamic Revolution.
  • The Islamic revolution.
  • The Islamic revolution, Internews.
Historical articles
  • Mohammad-Reza-Shah-Pahlavi, Encyclopedia Britannica
  • "Iran after the victory of 1979's Revolution," on Iran Chamber Society
  • Islamic Revolution of Iran, Encarta (Archived 2009-10-31)
  • The Islamic revolution, Britannica
  • The Dynamics of the Islamic Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy
  • The Islamic revolution: 30 years on, its legacy still looms large – audio slideshow by The Guardian

External links

  • Islamic Revolution Portal The Iran Revolution.
  • Abrahamian, Ervand, 'Mass Protests in the Islamic Revolution, 1977–79’, in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 162–78. ISBN 978-0-19-955201-6.
  • Ryszard Kapuściński. Shah of Shahs. Translated from Polish by William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand. New York: Vintage International, 1992.
  • Charles Kurzman. The Unthinkable Revolution. Cambridge, MA & London: Harvard University Press, 2004.
  • Habib Ladjevardi (editor), Memoirs of Shapour Bakhtiar, Harvard University Press, 1996.
  • Kraft, Joseph. "Letter from Iran", The New Yorker, Vol. LIV, #44, Dec. 18, 1978.
  • Legum, Colin, et al., eds. Middle East Contemporary Survey: Volume III, 1978–79. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1980. + *Legum, Colin, et al., eds. Middle East Conte
  • Milani, Abbas, The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Islamic Revolution, Mage Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0-934211-61-2.
  • Munson, Henry, Jr. Islam and Revolution in the Middle East. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
  • Nafisi, Azar. "Reading Lolita in Tehran." New York: Random House, 2003.
  • Nobari, Ali Reza, ed. Iran Erupts: Independence: News and Analysis of the Iranian National Movement. Stanford: Iran-America Documentation Group, 1978.
  • Nomani, Farhad & Sohrab Behdad, Class and Labor in Iran; Did the Revolution Matter? Syracuse University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-8156-3094-8
  • Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza, Response to History, Stein & Day Pub, 1980, ISBN 0-8128-2755-4.
  • Rahnema, Saeed & Sohrab Behdad, eds. Iran After the Revolution: Crisis of an Islamic State. London: I.B. Tauris, 1995.
  • Sick, Gary. All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.
  • Shawcross, William, The Shah's last ride: The death of an ally, Touchstone, 1989, ISBN 0-671-68745-X.
  • Smith, Frank E. The Islamic Revolution. 1998.
  • Society for Iranian Studies, Islamic Revolution in Perspective. Special volume of Iranian Studies, 1980. Volume 13, nos. 1–4.
  • Time magazine, January 7, 1980. Man of the Year (Ayatollah Khomeini).
  • U.S. Department of State, American Foreign Policy Basic Documents, 1977–1980. Washington, DC: GPO, 1983. JX 1417 A56 1977–80 REF – 67 pages on Iran.
  • Yapp, M.E. The Near East Since the First World War: A History to 1995. London: Longman, 1996. Chapter 13: Iran, 1960–1989.

Further reading


  1. ^ Kurzman, Unthinkable Revolution, (2004), p.109.
    sources: "On martyrs of the revolution see Laleh'he-ye Enqelab; this volume, published by a religious institution, features photographs of `martyrs of the revolution, ` including name, age, date and place of death, and sometimes occupation; the method of selection is not described. I am indebted to Prof. James A. Bill for directing me to Laleh'ha-ye Enqelab, which he too has used as sampling of revolutionary fatalities (Bill, James, The Eagle and the Lion, p.487
  2. ^ a b c "A Question of Numbers", August 8, 2003 Rouzegar-Now Cyrus Kadivar
  3. ^ a b c E. Baqi, `Figures for the Dead in the Revolution`, Emruz, July 30, 2003.
  4. ^ Islamic Revolution, Iran Chamber.
  5. ^ Islamic Revolution of Iran, MS Encarta. Archived October 31, 2009.
  6. ^ The Islamic Revolution, Internews.
  7. ^ Islamic Revolution.
  8. ^ Iran Profile, PDF.
  9. ^ The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution (Hardcover), ISBN 0-275-97858-3, by Fereydoun Hoveyda, brother of Amir Abbas Hoveyda.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c d e f
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s
  14. ^ Ervand Abrahamian, 'Mass Protests in the Islamic Revolution, 1977–79’, in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press (2009), pp. 162–78.
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r
  18. ^ 1979: Exiled Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran|
  19. ^ Graham, Iran (1980) p. 228.
  20. ^ Kurzman, Charles, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Harvard University Press, 2004, p.111
  21. ^ Iran Islamic Republic, Encyclopædia Britannica.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  24. ^ Amuzegar, The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution, (1991), p.4, 9–12
  25. ^ Arjomand, Turban (1988), p. 191.
  26. ^ Amuzegar, Jahangir, The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution, SUNY Press, p.10
  27. ^ a b Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (2004), p.121
  28. ^
  29. ^ International Journal of Middle East Studies, 19, 1987, p. 261
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  31. ^ Benard, "The Government of God" (1984), p. 18.
  32. ^
  33. ^ Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, (1982), 534-5
  34. ^ According to Kurzman, scholars writing on the revolution who have mentioned this include:
    • Sick, All Fall Down, p.187;
    • Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1980, p.189;
    • Keddie, `Iranian Revolutions in Comparative Perspective, ` American Historical Review, 1983, v.88, p.589;
    • Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, p.13
  35. ^ a b Harney, The Priest (1998), pp. 37, 47, 67, 128, 155, 167.
  36. ^ Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.437
  37. ^ Mackay, Iranians (1998), pp. 236, 260.
  38. ^ Graham, Iran (1980), pp. 19, 96.
  39. ^ Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini (2001).
  40. ^ Shirley, Know Thine Enemy (1997), p. 207.
  41. ^ Andrew Scott Cooper. The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East. Simon & Schuster, 2011. ISBN 1439155178.
  42. ^ Keddie, Nikki R. Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution, First Edition. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2006. 214.
  43. ^ Taheri, The Spirit of Allah (1985), p. 238.
  44. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 178.
  45. ^ Hoveyda Shah (2003) p. 22.
  46. ^ Abrahamian, Iran (1982), pp. 533–4.
  47. ^ Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran (1997), pp. 293–4.
  48. ^ Keddie, Nikki. Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-92. Frank Cass, 1966, p. 38.
  49. ^ Moaddel, Mansoor. “Shi'i Political Discourse and Class Mobilization in the Tobacco Movement of 1890-1892.” Sociological Forum, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Sep., 1992): p. 459.
  50. ^ Lambton, Ann. Qajar Persia. University of Texas Press, 1987, p. 248
  51. ^ Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran. Oneworld, 2000, p. 218
  52. ^ Keddie, Nikki. Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-92. Frank Cass, 1966
  53. ^ Mackey, The Iranians, (1996) p.184
  54. ^ Bakhash, Shaul, Reign of the Ayatollahs : Iran and the Islamic Revolution by Shaul, Bakhash, Basic Books, c1984 p.22
  55. ^ Taheri, Amir, The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, Adler and Adler, c1985, p.94-5
  56. ^ Rajaee, Farhang, Islamic Values and World View: Khomeyni on Man, the State and International Politics, Volume XIII (PDF), University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-3578-X
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ Nehzat by Ruhani vol. 1 p. 195, quoted in Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 75.
  61. ^ Islam and Revolution, p. 17.;
  62. ^
  63. ^ Graham, Iran 1980, p. 69.
  64. ^ a b Mackay, Iranians (1996) pp. 215, 264–5.
  65. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran, (2003) p.201-7
  66. ^ The Last Great Revolution Turmoil and Transformation in Iran, by Robin WRIGHT.
  67. ^ Dabashi, Theology of Discontent (1993), p.419, 443
  68. ^ See: Velayat-e faqih (book by Khomeini)#Importance of Islamic Government
  69. ^ Khomeini; Algar, Islam and Revolution, p.52, 54, 80
  70. ^ a b Taheri, The Spirit of Allah (1985), p. 196.
  71. ^ Abrahamian, Iran Between (1980), pp. 502–3.
  72. ^ Kurzman, Charles, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Harvard University Press, 2004, 144–5
  73. ^ Marxist guerrillas groups were the Iranian People's Fedai Guerrillas (IPFG), and some minor groups. see "Ideology, Culture, and Ambiguity: The Revolutionary Process in Iran", Theory and Society, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Jun., 1996), pp. 349–88.
  74. ^ Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (2004), p.145-6
  75. ^ Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, 1982, p.495
  76. ^ a b Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, (1982), p.479
  77. ^ Mackay, Iranians (1996), p. 276.
  78. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Khomeinism : Essays on the Islamic Republic, Berkeley : University of California Press, c1993. p.30
  79. ^ Abrahamian, Iran Between (1980), pp. 478–9
  80. ^ See: Hokumat-e Islami : Velayat-e faqih (book by Khomeini)#Why Islamic Government has not been established
  81. ^ Khomeini and Algar, Islam and Revolution (1981), p.34
  82. ^ Abrahamian, Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic by Ervand Abrahamian, University of California Press, c1993. p.30 [source: Liberation Movement, Velayat-e Motlaqah-e Faqih (The jurist's absolute guardianship) (Tehran: Liberation Movement Press, 1988)]
  83. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran, (2006), p.240
  84. ^ Wright, Last (2000), p. 220.
  85. ^ Abrahamian, Iran (1982), p. 444.
  86. ^ Graham, Iran (1980) p. 94.
  87. ^ Gelvin, "Modern Middle East" (2008) p.285
  88. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 163.
  89. ^ Graham, Iran (1980), p. 226.
  90. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 174.
  91. ^ Graham, Iran (1980), p. 96.
  92. ^ Abrahamian, Iran (1982), pp. 501–3.
  93. ^ Gölz, Olmo. „Dah Šab - Zehn Literaturabende in Teheran 1977: Der Kampf um das Monopol literarischer Legitimität.“ Die Welt des Islams 55, Nr. 1 (2015): 83–111.
  94. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), pp. 184–5.
  95. ^ Taheri, Spirit (1985), pp. 182–3.
  96. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
  97. ^
  98. ^
  99. ^
  100. ^
  101. ^
  102. ^ Abrahamian, Iran (1982), p. 505.
  103. ^ Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, HUP, 2004, p.38
  104. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af
  105. ^ a b c
  106. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t
  107. ^ a b
  108. ^ a b c d
  109. ^ a b c d e f g h
  110. ^ a b c d Abrahamian, Iran (1982), pp. 510, 512, 513.
  111. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x
  112. ^ a b
  113. ^ a b Kurzman, Thhe Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (2004), p.117
  114. ^ Carter, Jimmy, Keeping the Faith: Memoirs of a president, Bantam, 1982, p.438
  115. ^ See pages 80–101 in
  116. ^ a b c
  117. ^ a b
  118. ^ a b Afkhami, R. Gholam (2009) The life and times of the Shah University of California Press, page 465 & 459, ISBN 0-520-25328-0
  119. ^ Ansari, M. Ali (2007) Modern Iran: the Pahlavis and after Pearson Education, page 259, ISBN 1-4058-4084-6
  120. ^ Federal Research Division (2004) Iran A Country Study Kessinger Publishing, page 78, ISBN 1-4191-2670-9
  121. ^ Bahl, Taru, Syed, M.H (2003) Encyclopaedia of the Muslim World Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 2003, page 105, ISBN 81-261-1419-3
  122. ^ Glenn Eldon Curtis, Library of Congress (2008) Iran: a country study Government Printing Office, page 48, ISBN 0-8444-1187-6
  123. ^ a b
  124. ^ a b
  125. ^ Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (2004), p.61
  126. ^
  127. ^ a b c d e f g h
  128. ^ a b c d e f
  129. ^ a b c
  130. ^ a b
  131. ^ a b
  132. ^ a b
  133. ^ Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (2004), p.122
  134. ^ a b c d e
  135. ^ a b c d e f g
  136. ^ a b c
  137. ^
  138. ^ "Demonstrations allowed", ABC Evening News for Monday, January 15, 1979.
  139. ^
  140. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p.161
  141. ^ Taheri, Spirit (1985), p. 146.
  142. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 200.
  143. ^ What Are the Iranians Dreaming About? by Michel Foucault, Chicago: University Press.
  144. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 204.
  145. ^ Khomeini, Sahifeh-ye Nur, vol.5, p.31, translated by Baqer Moin in Khomeini (2000), p.204
  146. ^ چرا و چگونه بازرگان به نخست وزیری رسید؟ The commandment of Ayatollah Khomeini for Bazargan and his sermon on February 5.
  147. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 206.
  148. ^ Abrahamian, Iran (1982), p. 529.
  149. ^ Adnki.
  150. ^ Iran 20th, 1999-01-31, CNN World.
  151. ^ RFERL.
  152. ^ Iran Anniversary, 2004-02-11, CBC World.
  153. ^ Researcher Emad al-Din Baghi at the Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad Shahid) counted 2,781 protesters killed in 1978–79, a total of 3,164 killed between 1963 and 1979.
  154. ^ a b A Question of Numbers August 8, 2003 Rouzegar-Now Cyrus Kadivar
  155. ^
  156. ^ Mojahedin-e Khalq, but also "Fedayins and Kurds as well as Tudeh, National Front, and Shariatmadari supporters"
  157. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Columbia University Press, 2008, p.181
  158. ^
  159. ^
  160. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam and Muslim World, Thomson Gale, 2004, p.357 (article by Stockdale, Nancy, L.)
  161. ^ see also Keddie, Modern Iran, (2006), p.241
  162. ^ Democracy? I meant theocracy, by Dr. Jalal Matini, translation & introduction by Farhad Mafie, August 5, 2003, The Iranian.
  163. ^ Zabih, Sepehr, Iran Since the Revolution Johns Hopkins Press, 1982, p.2
  164. ^ Schirazi, Constitution of Iran, (1997), p.93-4
  165. ^ " Democracy? I meant theocracy", by Dr. Jalal Matini, translation & introduction by Farhad Mafie, August 5, 2003, The Iranian.
  166. ^ a b Islamic Clerics, Khomeini Promises Kept, Gems of Islamism.
  167. ^ Azar Tabari, ‘Mystifications of the Past and Illusions of the Future,’ in The Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic: Proceedings of a Conference, ed. Nikki R. Keddie and Eric Hooglund (Washington DC: Middle East Institute, 1982) pp. 101–24.
  168. ^ For example, Islamic Republic Party and allied forces controlled approximately 80% of the seats on the Assembly of Experts of Constitution. (see: Bakhash, Reign of the Ayatollahs (1983) p.78-82) An impressive margin even allowing for electoral manipulation
  169. ^ Ansari, Hamid, Narrative of Awakening : A Look at Imam Khomeini's Ideal, Scientific and Political Biography from Birth to Ascension by Hamid Ansari, Institute for Compilation and Publication of the Works of Imam Khomeini, International Affairs Division, [no publication date, preface dated 1994] translated by Seyed Manoochehr Moosavi, p.165-7
  170. ^ Schirazi, Constitution of Iran, (1997), pp. 24–32.
  171. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p.224
  172. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 203.
  173. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran (2003), pp. 241–2.
  174. ^ Kepel, Jihad, (2001), p.
  175. ^ Arjomand, Turban for the Crown, (1988) p.135)
  176. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran (2003) p.245
  177. ^ Moin, Khomeini,(2000), p.222
  178. ^ Mackey, Iranians (1996), p.371
  179. ^ Schirazi, Constitution of Iran, (1997) p.151
  180. ^
  181. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran, (2003) p.275
  182. ^ a b Moin, Khomeini (2000), p.210-1
  183. ^ Bakhash, Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984), p.56
  184. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000) p.211
  185. ^ Schirazi, Constitution of Iran, (1987)p.153
  186. ^ a b c Bakhash, Shaul, Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984) p.73
  187. ^ Moin, Khomeini, 2000, p. 217.
  188. ^ Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran, 1997, p. 22–3.
  189. ^ Moin, Khomeini, (2001), p.218
  190. ^ Bakhash, Shaul, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, Basic Books, 1984 p.74-82
  191. ^
  192. ^ Articles 99 and 108 of the constitution
  193. ^ opposition included some clerics, including Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, and by secularists such as the National Front who urged a boycott
  194. ^
  195. ^ Moin, Khomeini, (2000), p.228
  196. ^ Moin, Khomeini, (2000), p.248-9
  197. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran (2003), p.249
  198. ^ Bowden, Mark, Guests of the Ayatollah, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006, p.487
  199. ^ Bakhash, Shaul, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, p. 73.
  200. ^ Moin, Khomeini, 2000, p. 208.
  201. ^ Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs (1984), p. 61.
  202. ^ Mackey, Iranians (1996) p.291
  203. ^ Source: Letter from Amnesty International to the Shaul Bakhash, July 6, 1982. Quoted in The Reign of the Ayatollahs by Shaul Bakhash, p.111
  204. ^ The Reign of the Ayatollahs by Shaul Bakhash, p.111
  205. ^ The Reign of the Ayatollahs by Shaul Bakhash, p.221-222
  206. ^ Schirazi, Constitution of Iran (1997) p. 51.
  207. ^ Moin, Khomeini, 2000, pp. 219–20.
  208. ^ Kayhan, 20.8.78–21.8.78, ` quoted in Schirazi, Asghar, The Constitution of Iran, Tauris, 1997, p.51, also New York Times, August 8, 1979
  209. ^ Moin, Khomeini, 2000, p. 219.
  210. ^ Moin, Khomeini, (2001), p.219
  211. ^ Moin, Khomeini, (2001), p.219-20
  212. ^ Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs (1984) p.89.
  213. ^ a b Moin, Khomeini, 2000, p. 232.
  214. ^ Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984) p.89-90
  215. ^ Arjomand, Said Amir, The Turban for the Crown : The Islamic Revolution in Iran, Oxford University Press, c1988, p.156
  216. ^ Moin, Khomeini, 2001, p.234-5
  217. ^ Moin Khomeini, 2001, p.234, 239
  218. ^ Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984) p. 123.
  219. ^ Arjomand, Said Amir, Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran, Oxford University Press, 1988 p. 144.
  220. ^ Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984) p.153
  221. ^ Moin Khomeini, 2001, p.238
  222. ^ Schirazi, Asghar, The Constitution of Iran, Tauris 1997, p. 127.
  223. ^ The Constitution of Iran : politics and the state in the Islamic Republic by Asghar Schirazi, London ; New York : I.B. Tauris, 1997, p.127
  224. ^ Bakhash, Shaul, The Reign of the Ayatollahs by New York, Basic Books, 1984, p.158-9
  225. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 241–2.
  226. ^
  227. ^ example: "Secular Iranian writers of the early 1980s, most of whom supported the revolution, lamented the course it eventually took." from: The soul of Iran: a nation's journey to freedom By Afshin Molavi p.225
  228. ^ Professor Hamid Algar, the Distinguished Shia Muslim Scholar in USA, (assessed 1/6/2010)
  229. ^ Shirley, Know Thine Enemy (1997), pp. 98, 104, 195.
  230. ^ Akhbar Ganji talking to Afshin Molavi. Molavi, Afshin, The Soul of Iran, Norton paperback, (2005), p.156.
  231. ^ Shawcross, William, The Shah's Last Ride (1988), p. 110.
  232. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.138
  233. ^
  234. ^ Roy, Failure of Political Islam (1994), p. 175.
  235. ^ Wright, In the Name of God (1989), p. 126.
  236. ^ by Efraim Karsh, Osprey Publishing 2002The Iran-Iraq War, 1980–1988 p.72
  237. ^ Expansion of the Iranian Revolution and the War with Iraq, Gems of Islamism.
  238. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran, (2006), p.241, 251
  239. ^ Bakhash, Reign of the Ayatollahs, 1984, p.128-9
  240. ^ by Dilip HiroThe Longest War p.255
  241. ^ Fundamentalist Power, Martin Kramer.
  242. ^ Harik, Judith Palmer, Hezbollah, the Changing Face of Terrorism (2004), 40
  243. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival Norton, (2006), p.141
  244. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran (2003) p.241
  245. ^ Roy, Failure of Political Islam (1994), p. 193.
  246. ^ Roy, Failure of Political Islam (1994), p. 199.
  247. ^ Iran "has the lowest mosque attendance of any Islamic country." according to of the revolution
  248. ^ Khomeini Promises Kept, Gems of Islamism.
  249. ^
  250. ^ Iran, the UNESCO EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports.
  251. ^ Iran, the Essential Guide to a Country on the Brink, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006, p.212
  252. ^
  253. ^ Adult education offers new opportunities and options to Iranian women, UNGEI.
  254. ^ Howard, Jane. Inside Iran: Women's Lives, Mage publishers, 2002, p.89
  255. ^ Keddie, Modern Iran (2003) p.287-8
  256. ^ Iran: Human Development Index
  257. ^ Turkey: Human Development Index
  258. ^
  259. ^
  260. ^
  261. ^
  262. ^ Shirley, Know Thine Enemy (1997)
  263. ^ Schirazi, Constitution of Iran, 1997, p. 153.
  264. ^ "Ganji: Iran's Boris YELTSIN," by Amir Taheri, Arab News July 25, 2005
  265. ^ Backgrounder, HRW.
  266. ^ Naghmeh Zarbafian in My Sister, Guard Your Veil, My Brother, Guard Your Eyes (2006), (p.63)
  267. ^ a b
  268. ^ World Bank: Iran, Islamic Rep.: Student enrollment, tertiary, female
  269. ^ a b Statistical Centre of Iran (2011). Selected findings on 2011 Population and Housing Census. Teheran: Iranian ministry of the Interior, p. 35.
  270. ^ Statistical Centre of Iran (2011). Selected findings on 2011 Population and Housing Census. Teheran: Iranian ministry of the Interior, p. 32.
  271. ^ Graham Iran (1980) p. 227.
  272. ^ it reached 66% in 2003. (Keddie, Modern Iran (2003) p.286)
  273. ^ a b
  274. ^
  275. ^ a b
  276. ^
  277. ^

References and notes


Related conflicts:

Revolution-related topics:

See also


The economy has become more diversified since the revolution, with 80% of Iranian GDP dependent on oil and gas as of 2010,[276] comparing to above 90% at the end of the Pahlavi period. The Islamic Republic lags some countries in transparency and ease of doing business according to international surveys. Transparency International ranked Iran 136th out of 175 countries in transparency (i.e. lack of corruption) for its 2014 index;[273] and the IRI was ranked 130th out of the 189 countries surveyed in the World Bank 2015 Doing Business Report.[277]

Since the revolution Iran's GDP has grown from $114 billion in 1980 to $858 billion in 2010.[275] GDP per capita (PPP) has grown from $4295 in 1980 to $11,396 in 2010,.[275]

Iran's post-revolutionary economy has a significant state-owned or parastatal sector, including businesses owned by the Revolutionary Guards and Bonyad foundations.[273][274]


Women – especially those from traditional backgrounds – participated on a large scale in demonstrations leading up to the revolution.[271] Since the revolution university enrollment and the number of women in the civil service and higher education has risen[272] and several women have been elected to the Iranian parliament.

Pre-1979 Women in Iran Today
42.33% Literacy (15-24)[267] 98.52%
24.42% Literacy (>15)[267] 80.66%
48,845 Students[268] 2,191,409
122,753 Graduates[269] 5,023,992
2.4% Graduates (%)[269] 18.4%
19.7 Age at 1st marriage[270] 23.4

Whether the Islamic Republic has brought more or less severe political repression is disputed. Grumbling once done about the tyranny and corruption of the Shah and his court is now directed against "the Mullahs."[262] Fear of [266]

The members of the Bahá'í Faith have been declared heretical and subversive.[261] While persecution occurred before the Revolution since then more than 200 Bahá'ís have been executed or presumed killed, and many more have been imprisoned, deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses, and educational opportunities. Bahá'í holy places have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed. More recently, Bahá'ís in Iran have been deprived of education and work. Several thousand young Bahá'ís between the ages of 17 and 24 have been expelled from universities.

[260] five of the 290 parliamentary seats are allocated to their communities.[259] Iran has elected governmental bodies at the national, provincial, and local levels. Although these bodies are subordinate to theocracy – which has veto power over who can run for parliament (or

Politics and government

Literacy has continued to increase under the Islamic Republic which uses Islamic principles.[250][251] By 2002, illiteracy rates dropped by more than half.[252][253] Maternal and infant mortality rates have also been cut significantly.[254] Population growth was first encouraged, but discouraged after 1988.[255] Overall, Iran's Human development Index rating has climbed significantly from 0.569 in 1980 to 0.732 in 2002, on par with neighbour Turkey.[256][257] Iran has since fallen 8 spots below Turkey in the latest HDI however.[258]

Human development

Internally, the revolution has brought a broadening of education and health care for the poor, and particularly governmental promotion of Islam, and the elimination of secularism and American influence in government. Fewer changes have occurred in terms of political freedom, governmental honesty and efficiency, economic equality and self-sufficiency, or even popular religious devotion.[246][247][248] Opinion polls and observers report widespread dissatisfaction, including a "rift" between the revolutionary generation and younger Iranians who find it "impossible to understand what their parents were so passionate about."[249]


On the other side of the ledger, at least one observer argues that despite great effort and expense the only countries outside Iran the revolution had a "measure of lasting influence" on are Lebanon and Iraq.[243] Others claim the devastating Iran–Iraq War "mortally wounded ... the ideal of spreading the Islamic revolution,"[244] or that the Islamic Republic's pursuit of an ideological rather than a "nationalist, pragmatic" foreign policy has weakened Iran's "place as a great regional power".[245]

Although ultimately only the Lebanese Islamists succeeded, other activities have had more long-term impact. The Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of Indian-born British citizen Salman Rushdie had international impact. The Islamic revolutionary government itself is credited with helping establish Hezbollah in Lebanon[242] and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

In the Mideast and Muslim world, particularly in its early years, it triggered enormous enthusiasm and redoubled opposition to western intervention and influence. Islamist insurgents rose in Saudi Arabia (1979), Egypt (1981), Syria (1982), and Lebanon (1983).[241]

Other countries
Western/U.S.-Iranian relations

Like the hostage crisis, the war served in part as an opportunity for the government to strengthen revolutionary ardour and revolutionary groups.[237] such as the Revolutionary Guard and committees at the expense of its remaining allies-turned-opponents, such as the MEK.[238][239] While enormously costly and destructive, the war "rejuvenate[d] the drive for national unity and Islamic revolution" and "inhibited fractious debate and dispute" in Iran.[240]

In September 1980 the Arab Nationalist and Sunni Muslim-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein of neighboring Iraq invaded Iran in an attempt to take advantage of revolutionary chaos and destroy the revolution in its infancy. Iran was "galvanized"[236] and Iranians rallied behind their new government helping to stop and then reversing the Iraqi advance. By early 1982 Iran regained almost all the territory lost to the invasion.

In its region, Iranian Islamic revolutionaries called specifically for the overthrow of monarchies and their replacement with Islamic republics, much to the alarm of its smaller Sunni-run Arab neighbors Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Persian Gulf States – most of whom were monarchies and all of whom had sizable Shi'a populations. It was with one of these countries that the Iran–Iraq War, which killed hundreds of thousands and dominated life in the Islamic Republic for the next eight years, was fought. Although Iraq invaded Iran, most of the war was fought after Iran had regained most of its land back and after the Iraqi government had offered a truce. Khomeini rejected it, announcing the only condition for peace was that "the regime in Baghdad must fall and must be replaced by an Islamic Republic,"[235] but ultimately the war ended with no Islamic revolution in Iraq.

Reverse of Iranian 20 Rials coin - monument of 3rd anniversary of Iranian Revolution
Obverse of Iranian 20 Rials coin - monument of 3rd anniversary of Iranian Revolution
Persian Gulf and the Iran–Iraq War

The Islamic Republic positioned itself as a revolutionary beacon under the slogan "neither East nor West" (i.e. neither Soviet nor American/West European models), and called for the overthrow of capitalism, American influence, and social injustice in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Revolutionary leaders in Iran gave and sought support from non-Muslim causes in the Third World – e.g. the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, IRA in Ireland and anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa – even to the point of favoring non-Muslim revolutionaries over Islamic causes such as the neighboring Afghan Mujahideen.[234]

Internationally, the initial impact of the revolution was immense. In the non-Muslim world it changed the image of Islam, generating much interest in Islam – both sympathetic[231] and hostile[232] – and even speculation that the revolution might change "the world balance of power more than any political event since Hitler's conquest of Europe."[233]


Views differ on the impact of the revolution.[227] For some it was "the most significant, hopeful and profound event in the entirety of contemporary Islamic history,"[228] while other Iranians believe that the revolution was a time when "for a few years we all lost our minds",[229] and which "promised us heaven, but... created a hell on earth."[230]


The MEK bombings were not the only violent opposition to the Khomeinist rule. In May 1979, the Furqan Group (Guruh-i Furqan) assassinated an important lieutenant of Khomeini, Morteza Motahhari.[226]

The MEK retaliated with a campaign of terror against the IRP. On the June 28, 1981, a bombing of the office of the IRP killed around 70 high-ranking officials, cabinet members and members of parliament, including Mohammad Beheshti, the secretary-general of the party and head of the Islamic Republic's judicial system. The government responded with thousands of arrests and hundreds of executions.[225] Despite these and other assassinations[182] the hoped-for mass uprising and armed struggle against the Khomeiniists was crushed.

When leaders of the National Front called for a demonstration in June 1981 in favor of Banisadr, Khomeini threatened its leaders with the death penalty for apostasy "if they did not repent."[222] Leaders of the Freedom Movement of Iran were compelled to make and publicly broadcast apologies for supporting the Front's appeal.[223] Those attending the rally were menaced by Hezbollahi and Revolutionary Guards and intimidated into silence.[224]

By mid-1981 matters came to a head. An attempt by Khomeini to forge a reconciliation between Banisadr and IRP leaders had failed[220] and now it was Banisadr who was the rallying point "for all doubters and dissidents" of the theocracy, including the MEK.[221]

At the same time, erstwhile revolutionary allies of Khomeini – the Islamist modernist guerrilla group monafeqin (hypocrites) and kafer (unbelievers).[217] Hezbollahi people attacked meeting places, bookstores, newsstands of Mujahideen and other leftists[218] driving them underground. Universities were closed to purge them of opponents of theocratic rule as a part of the "Cultural Revolution", and 20,000 teachers and nearly 8,000 military officers deemed too westernized were dismissed.[219]

Banisadr in 1958

In January 1980 Abolhassan Banisadr was elected president of Iran. Though an adviser to Khomeini, he was a leftist who clashed with another ally of Khomeini, the theocratic Islamic Republic Party (IRP) – the controlling power in the new parliament.[216]

Islamist left

In December the moderate Islamic party Muslim People's Republican Party (MPRP), and its spiritual leader Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari had become a rallying point for Iranians who wanted democracy not theocracy.[213] Riots broke out in Shariatmadari's Azeri home region with members of the MPRP and Shariatmadari's followers seizing the Tabriz television station, and using it to "broadcast demands and grievances." The regime reacted quickly, sending Revolutionary Guards to retake the TV station, mediators to defuse complaints and activists to stage a massive pro-Khomeini counter-demonstration.[214] The party was suppressed[213] and in 1982 Shari'atmadari was "demoted" from the rank of Grand Ayatollah and many of his clerical followers purged.[215]

Muslim People's Republican Party

Hundreds were injured by "rocks, clubs, chains and iron bars" when Hezbollahi attacked the protesters,[211] and shortly after, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the NDF's leader.[212]

... After each revolution several thousand of these corrupt elements are executed in public and burnt and the story is over. They are not allowed to publish newspapers.[210]

In mid August, shortly after the election of the constitution-writing assembly, several dozen newspapers and magazines opposing Khomeini's idea of theocratic rule by jurists were shut down.[206][207][208] When protests were organized by the National Democratic Front (NDF), Khomeini angrily denounced them saying, "we thought we were dealing with human beings. It is evident we are not."[209]

Newspaper closings

Between January 1980 and June 1981, when Bani-Sadr was impeached, at least 900 executions took place,[203] for everything from drug and sexual offenses to `corruption on earth, ` from plotting counter-revolution and spying for Israel to membership in opposition groups.[204] In the 12 months following that Amnesty International documented 2,946 executions, with several thousand more killed in the next two years according to the anti-government guerillas People's Mujahedin of Iran.[205]

After the revolution, human rights groups estimated the number of casualties suffered by protesters and prisoners of the new system to be several thousand. The first to be executed were members of the old system – senior generals, followed by over 200 senior civilian officials,[200] as punishment and to eliminate the danger of a coup d’État. Brief trials lacking defense attorneys, juries, transparency or opportunity for the accused to defend themselves,[201] were held by revolutionary judges such as Sadegh Khalkhali, the Sharia judge. By January 1980 "at least 582 persons had been executed."[202] Among those executed was Amir Abbas Hoveida, former Prime Minister of Iran.

In succession the National Democratic Front was banned in August 1979, the provisional government was disempowered in November, the Muslim People's Republican Party banned in January 1980, the People's Mujahedin of Iran guerrillas came under attack in February 1980, a purge of universities was begun in March 1980, and leftist Islamist Abolhassan Banisadr was impeached in June 1981.

In early March Khomeini announced, "do not use this term, ‘democratic.’ That is the Western style," giving pro-democracy liberals (and later leftists) a taste of disappointments to come.[199]

Suppression of opposition

It ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords in Algeria on January 19, 1981. The hostages were formally released into United States custody the following day, just minutes after the new American president Ronald Reagan was sworn in. The hostages had been held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

The prestige of Khomeini and the hostage taking was further enhanced with the failure of a hostage rescue attempt, widely credited to divine intervention.[198]

With great publicity the students released documents from the American embassy or "nest of spies," showing moderate Iranian leaders had met with U.S. officials (similar evidence of high-ranking Islamists having done so did not see the light of day).[196] Among the casualties of the hostage crisis was Prime Minister Bazargan and his government who resigned in November unable to enforce the government's order to release the hostages.[197]

This action has many benefits. ... This has united our people. Our opponents do not dare act against us. We can put the constitution to the people's vote without difficulty ...[195]
, BanisadrThe holding of hostages was very popular and continued for months even after the death of the Shah. As Khomeini explained to his future President

Helping to pass the constitution, suppress moderates and otherwise radicalize the revolution was the holding of 52 American diplomats hostage for four hundred forty-four days. In late October 1979, the exiled and dying Shah was admitted into the United States for cancer treatment. In Iran there was an immediate outcry and both Khomeini and leftist groups demanding the Shah's return to Iran for trial and execution. On November 4, 1979 youthful Islamists, calling themselves coup d'état to overthrow his nationalist opponent.

Hostage Crisis

The new constitution was also reportedly approved overwhelmingly by referendum, but with more opposition[193] and smaller turnout.[194]

In addition to the president, the new constitution included a more powerful post of guardian jurist ruler intended for Khomeini,[191] with control of the military and security services, and power to appoint several top government and judicial officials. It increased the power and number of clerics on the Council of Guardians and gave it control over elections[192] as well as laws passed by the legislature.

Khomeini (and the assembly) now rejected the constitution – its correctness notwithstanding – and Khomeini declared that the new government should be based "100% on Islam."[190]

In June 1979 the Freedom Movement released its draft constitution for the Islamic Republic that it had been working on since Khomeini was in exile. It included a Guardian Council to veto un-Islamic legislation, but had no guardian jurist ruler.[187] Leftists found the draft too conservative and in need of major changes but Khomeini declared it `correct`.[166][188] To approve the new constitution and prevent leftist alterations, a relatively small seventy-three-member Assembly of Experts for Constitution was elected that summer. Critics complained that "vote-rigging, violence against undesirable candidates and the dissemination of false information" was used to "produce an assembly overwhelmingly dominated by clergy loyal to Khomeini."[189]

Writing of the constitution

On March 30 and 31 (Farvardin 10, 11) a referendum was held over whether to replace the monarchy with an "Islamic Republic" – a term not defined on the ballot. Khomeini called for a massive turnout[186] and only the Fadayan, and several Kurdish parties opposed the vote.[186] It was announced that 98.2% had voted in favor.[186]

Referendum of 12 Farvardin

Establishment of Islamic republic government

Following the events of the revolution, Marxist guerrillas and federalist parties revolted in some regions comprising Khuzistan, Kurdistan and Gonbad-e Qabus, which resulted in fighting between them and revolutionary forces. These revolts began in April 1979 and lasted between several months to over a year, depending on the region.

1979 uprisings

Two major political groups that formed after the fall of the shah that clashed with and were eventually suppressed by pro-Khomeini groups, were the moderate religious Muslim People's Republican Party (MPRP) which was associated with Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, and the secular leftist National Democratic Front (NDF).

Also enforcing the will of the government were the Hezbollahi (the Party of God), "strong-arm thugs" who attacked demonstrators and offices of newspapers critical of Khomeini.[185]

Thousands of komiteh or Revolutionary Committees[183] served as "the eyes and ears" of the new rule and are credited by critics with "many arbitrary arrests, executions and confiscations of property".[184]

Serving under the Pasdaran were/are the Baseej-e Mostaz'afin, ("Oppressed Mobilization")[180] volunteers in everything from earthquake emergency management to attacking opposition demonstrators and newspaper offices.[181] The Islamic Republican Party[182] then fought to establish a theocratic government by velayat-e faqih.

The Revolutionary Guard, or Pasdaran-e Enqelab, was established by Khomeini on May 5, 1979, as a counterweight both to the armed groups of the left, and to the Shah's military. The guard eventually grew into "a full-scale" military force,[178] becoming "the strongest institution of the revolution."[179]

This conflict lasted only a few months however. The provisional government fell shortly after American Embassy officials were taken hostage on 4 November 1979. Bazargan's resignation was received by Khomeini without complaint, saying "Mr. Bazargan ... was a little tired and preferred to stay on the sidelines for a while." Khomeini later described his appointment of Bazargan as a "mistake."[177]

While the moderate Bazargan and his government (temporarily) reassured the middle class, it became apparent they did not have power over the "Khomeinist" revolutionary bodies, particularly the Revolutionary Council (the "real power" in the revolutionary state),[174][175] and later the Islamic Republican Party. Inevitably, the overlapping authority of the Revolutionary Council (which had the power to pass laws) and Bazargan's government was a source of conflict,[176] despite the fact that both had been approved by and/or put in place by Khomeini.

The most important bodies of the revolution were the Revolutionary Council, the Revolutionary Guards, Revolutionary Tribunals, Islamic Republican Party, and Revolutionary Committees (komitehs).[173]

The Shah and his wife left the country on 16 January 1979

Organizations of the revolution

Khomeini and his loyalists in the velayat-e faqih design for an Islamic Republic led by himself as Supreme Leader[170] by exploiting temporary allies[171] such as Mehdi Bazargan's Provisional Government of Iran, whom they later eliminated from Iran's political stage one by one.[172]

Another view is Khomeini had "overwhelming ideological, political and organizational hegemony,"[167] and non-theocratic groups never seriously challenged Khomeini's movement in popular support.[168] Supporters of the new rule themselves have claimed that Iranians who opposed Khomeini were "fifth columnists" led by foreign countries attempting to overthrow the Iranian government.[169]

Some observers believe "what began as an authentic and anti-dictatorial popular revolution based on a broad coalition of all anti-Shah forces was soon transformed into an Islamic fundamentalist power-grab,"[163] that except for his core supporters, the members of the coalition thought Khomeini intended to be more a spiritual guide than a ruler[164] – Khomeini being in his mid-70s, having never held public office, been out of Iran for more than a decade, and having told questioners things like "the religious dignitaries do not want to rule."[165][166]

Khomeini told questioners things like "the religious dignitaries do not want to rule."[162]

Conflicts among revolutionaries

From early 1979 to either 1982 or 1983 Iran was in a "revolutionary crisis mode".[158] After the system of despotic monarchy had been overthrown,[159] the economy and the apparatus of government had collapsed, military and security forces were in disarray. Yet, by 1982 Khomeini and his supporters had crushed the rival factions, defeated local rebellions and consolidated power. Events that made up both the crisis and its resolution were the Iran Hostage Crisis, the invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and the presidency of Abolhassan Banisadr.[160][161]

Consolidation of power by Khomeini


Some 2,781 protesters and revolutionaries were killed in 1978–79 during the Revolution.[2][153] Khomeini sought support by announcing a much larger number; he said that "60,000 men, women and children were martyred by the Shah's regime."[3][154][154][155] According to at least one source (historian Ervand Abrahamian), the number executed by revolutionary courts as the revolution was consolidated (8000 opponents between June 1981 and June 1985[156]) exceeded those killed by the royalist government trying to stop the revolution.[157] While much of the public believed the opposition's casualty figures, post-revolution estimates mostly supported the royal government's casualty figures.[2][3][13][22][23]


This period, from February 1 to 11, is celebrated every year in Iran as the "Decade of Fajr."[149][150] February 11 is "Islamic Revolution's Victory Day", a national holiday with state sponsored demonstrations in every city.[151][152]

The final collapse of the provisional non-Islamist government came at 2 pm February 11 when the Supreme Military Council declared itself "neutral in the current political disputes… in order to prevent further disorder and bloodshed."[147][148] All military personnel were ordered back to their bases, effectively yielding control of the entire country to Khomeini.[109] Revolutionaries took over government buildings, TV and radio stations, and palaces of the Pahlavi dynasty, marking the end of the 2500-year-old monarchy in Iran. Bakhtiar escaped the palace under a hail of bullets, fleeing Iran in disguise. He was later assassinated by an agent of the Islamic Republic in 1991 in Paris.

The armed rebels attacked a weapons factory, capturing nearly 50,000 machine guns and distributing them to civilians who joined in the fighting. The rebels began storming police stations and military bases throughout Tehran. The city's martial law commander General Mehdi Rahimi decided not to use his 30,000 loyal Immortal Guards to crush the rebellion for fear of producing civilian casualties.[128]

On February 9, a rebellion of pro-Khomeini air force technicians broke out at the Doshan Tappeh air base. A unit of the pro-Shah Immortal Guards attempted to apprehend the rebels, and an armed battle broke out. Soon large crowds took to the streets, building barricades and supporting the rebels, while Islamic-Marxist guerillas with their weapons joined in support.[104]

Tensions between the two rival governments increased rapidly. To demonstrate his support, Khomeini called for demonstrators to occupy the streets throughout the country. He also sent a letter to American officials warning them to withdraw support for Bakhtiar.[16] Bakhtiar increasingly isolated, with members of the government (including the entire Regency Council) defecting to Khomeini. The military was crumbling, with its leadership completely paralyzed, unsure of whether to support Bakhtiar or act on their own, and rank-and-file soldiers either demoralized or deserting.[104][109]

Armed battles and collapse of the monarchy

Iran has one government. More than this is intolerable, either for me or for you or for any other Iranian. As a Muslim, I had not heard that jihad refers to one Muslim against other Muslims.... I will not give permission to Ayatollah Khomeini to form an interim government. In life there comes a time when one must stand firm and say no.... I have never seen a book about an Islamic Republic; neither has anyone else for that matter.... Some of the people surrounding the Ayatollah are like violent vultures.... The clergy should go to Qom and build a wall around themselves and create their own Vatican.[135]

Angered, Bakhtiar made a speech of his own. Reaffirming himself as the legitimate leader, he declared that:

[T]hrough the guardianship [Velayat] that I have from the holy lawgiver [the Prophet], I hereby pronounce Bazargan as the Ruler, and since I have appointed him, he must be obeyed. The nation must obey him. This is not an ordinary government. It is a government based on the sharia. Opposing this government means opposing the sharia of Islam ... Revolt against God's government is a revolt against God. Revolt against God is blasphemy.[145][146]

Khomeini appointed his own competing interim prime minister Mehdi Bazargan on February 4, 'with the support of the nation'[144] and commanded Iranians to obey Bazargan as a religious duty.[135]

Iranian prime minister Mehdi Bazargan was an advocate of democracy and civil rights. He also opposed the cultural revolution and US embassy takeover.

On the day of his arrival Khomeini made clear his fierce rejection of Bakhtiar's government in a speech promising 'I shall kick their teeth in. I appoint the government, I appoint the government in support of this nation'.[135] On February 5 at his headquarters in the Refah School in southern Tehran, he declared a provisional revolutionary government, and appointed opposition leader Mehdi Bazargan (from the religious-nationalist Freedom Movement, affiliated with the National Front), as his own prime minister.[12][17][104][135]

Bakhtiar dissolved SAVAK and freed all remaining political prisoners. He ordered the army to allow mass demonstrations, promised free elections and invited the revolutionaries into a government of "national unity".[135][138] Bakhtiar invited Khomeini back to Iran, with the intention of creating a Vatican-like state in the holy city of Qom, declaring that "We will soon have the honor of welcoming home the Ayatollah Khomeini".[135] On February 1, 1979 Khomeini returned to Tehran in a chartered Air France Boeing 747.[139] The welcoming crowd of several million Iranians was so large he was forced to take a helicopter after the car he was being transported in from the airport was overwhelmed by an enthusiastic welcoming crowd.[140] Khomeini was now not only the undisputed leader of the revolution,[141] he had become what some called a "semi-divine" figure, greeted as he descended from his airplane with cries of 'Khomeini, O Imam, we salute you, peace be upon you.'[142] Crowds were now known to chant "Islam, Islam, Khomeini, We Will Follow You," and even "Khomeini for King."[143] When asked by a reporter how he felt returning to his home country after a long exile, Khomeini replied "Nothing".

When news of the Shah's departure was announced, there were spontaneous scenes of joy throughout the country. Millions poured onto the streets, virtually every remaining sign of the monarchy was torn down by the crowds.[104][137]

Bakhtiar's Premiership and Khomeini's return

On the morning of January 16, 1979, Bakhtiar was officially appointed prime minister. The same day, a tearful Shah and his family left Iran for exile in Egypt, never to return.[16]

American General Robert Huyser, the Deputy Commander of NATO, entered Iran.[16] While the option of a pro-Shah military coup still was a possibility, Huyser met with military leaders (but not the Shah), and established meetings between them and Khomeini allies, for the purpose of agreeing on Bakhtiar's transitional government.[16][96][104][136] Ambassador Sullivan disagreed, and attempted to pressure Huyser to ignore the military and work directly with Khomeini's opposition.[104][136] Nevertheless, Huyser won out and continued to work with the both the military and opposition. He left Iran on February 3.[104][136] The Shah was privately embittered by Huyser's mission, and felt that the United States wanted him to be no longer in power.[96]

The Shah, hoping to see Bakhtiar established, kept delaying his departure. Consequently, to the Iranian public, Bakhtiar was seen as the Shah's last prime minister, undermining his support.[104]

The Shah leaves

The Shah began to search for a new prime minister, one who was a civilian and a member of the opposition. On December 28, he secured an agreement with another major National Front figure, Shahpour Bakhtiar. Bakhtiar would be appointed prime minister (a return to civilian rule), while the Shah and his family would leave the country for a "vacation". His royal duties would be carried out by a Regency Council, and three months after his departure a referendum would be submitted to the people deciding on whether Iran would remain a monarchy or become a republic. A former opponent of the Shah, Bakhtiar became motivated to join the government because he was increasingly aware of Khomeini's intentions to implement hard-line religious rule rather than a democracy.[17] Karim Sanjabi immediately expelled Bakhtiar from the National Front, and Bakhtiar was denounced by Khomeini (who declared that acceptance of his government was the equivalent of "obedience to false gods").[16][135]

Increasing contact was established with the pro-Khomeini camp. Based on the revolutionaries responses, some American officials (especially Ambassador Sullivan) felt that Khomeini was genuinely intent on creating a democracy.[16] According to historian Abbas Milani, this resulted in the United States effectively helping to facilitate Khomeini's rise to power.[16]

The telegram touched off a vigorous debate in the American cabinet, with some (such as National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski[134]) rejecting it outright. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance rejected a military crackdown;[104] he and his supporters believed in the "moderate and progressive" intentions of Khomeini and his circle.[112][134]

The Carter Administration increasingly became locked in a debate about continued support for the monarchy.[134] As early as November, ambassador William Sullivan sent a telegram to Carter ([134] the "Thinking the Unthinkable" telegram). The telegram effectively declared his belief that the Shah would not survive the protests, and that the US should consider withdrawing its support for his government and persuading the monarch to abdicate. The United States would then help assemble a coalition of pro-Western military officers, middle class professionals, and moderate clergy, with Khomeini installed as a Gandhi-like spiritual leader.[134]

Shapour Bakhtiar and Mosaddegh cartoon in Ettelaat newspaper 22 January 1978 during revolution.

American and Internal Negotiations with the opposition

The military leadership was increasingly paralyzed by indecision, and rank-and-file soldiers were demoralized, having been forced to confront demonstrators while prohibited from using their own weapons (and being condemned by the Shah if they did).[109] Increasingly, Khomeini called on the soldiers of the armed forces to defect to the opposition.[96][108] Revolutionaries gave flowers and civilian clothes to deserters, while threatening retribution to those who stayed. On December 11, a dozen officers were shot dead by their own troops at Tehran's Lavizan barracks. Fearing further mutinies, many soldiers were returned to their barracks.[109] Mashhad (the second largest city in Iran) was abandoned to the protesters, and in many provincial towns demonstrators were effectively in control.[104]

Demoralization of the Army

Much of Iranian society was in euphoria about the coming revolution. Secular and leftist politicians piled onto the movement hoping to gain power in the aftermath, ignoring the fact that Khomeini was the very antithesis to all of the positions they supported (such as women's rights).[16] While it was increasingly clear to more secular Iranians that Khomeini was not a liberal, he was widely perceived as a figurehead, and that power would eventually be handed to the secular groups.[16][111]

The Shah's exile and Khomeini's return

More than 10% of the country marched in anti-shah demonstrations on December 10 and 11, 1978,[27] possibly a higher percentage than any previous revolution. It is rare for a revolution to involve as much as 1 percent of a country's population; the French, Russian, and Romanian revolutions may have passed the 1 percent mark.
Mass demonstration in Tehran

On December 10 and 11, the days of Tasu'a and Ashura, between six and nine million anti-shah demonstrators marched throughout Iran. According to one historian, "even discounting for exaggeration, these figures may represent the largest protest event in history."[133] The marches were led by Ayatollah Taleghani and National Front leader Karim Sanjabi, thus symbolizing the "unity" of the secular and religious opposition. The mullahs and bazaar merchants effectively policed the gathering, and protesters who attempted to initiate violence were restrained.[104]|

As the days of Tasu'a and Ashura (December 10 and 11) approached, in order to prevent a deadly showdown the Shah began to draw back. In negotiations with Ayatollah Shariatmadari, the Shah ordered the release of 120 political prisoners and Karim Sanjabi, and on December 8 revoked the ban on street demonstrations. Permits were issued for the marchers, and troops were removed from the procession's path. In turn, Shariatmadari pledged that to make sure that there would be no violence during the demonstrations.[106]

Tasu'a and Ashura marches

After the success of what would become known as a revolution, Grand Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran as its religious and political leader for life. Khomeini had been an opposition leader to Shah for many years, rising to prominence after the death of his mentor, renowned scholar Yazdi Ha'iri, in the 1930s.[132] Even in his years in exile, Khomeini remained relevant in Iran. Supporting the protests from beyond Iran's borders, he proclaimed that "freedom and liberation from the bonds of imperialism" was imminent.[132]

The protesters demanded that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi step down from power, and that Grand Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini be returned from exile. The protests grew incredibly fast, reaching between six million and nine million in strength in the first week. About 10% of the entire population had taken to the streets in the Muharram protests. Both beginning and ending in the month of Muharram, the protests succeeded and Shah stepped down from power later in the month.[131]

On the second of December 1978, the Muharram protests began. Named for the Islamic month they began in, the Muharram protests were impressively huge and pivotal. Over two million protesters[131] (many of whom were teenagers organized by the mullahs from the mosques of southern Tehran) took to the streets, crowding Shahyad Square. Protesters frequently went out at night, defying the set curfew (often taking to rooftops and shouting "Allahu-Akbar" (God is Great). According to one witness, many of the clashes on the street had an air of playfulness rather than seriousness, with security forces using "kid gloves" against the opposition[111] (nevertheless, the government reported at least 12 opposition deaths).[130]

While the military authorities banned street demonstrations and extended the curfew, the Shah faced deep misgivings about the potential violence.[106]

Khomeini condemned the military government and called for continued protests (and for "rivers of blood" to be spilled).[104][130] He and the protest organizers planned a series of escalating protests during the holy Islamic month of Muharram, to culminate with massive protests on the days of Tasu'a and Ashura (commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein ibn Ali, the third Shia Muslim imam).[104]

Muharram protests

Ayatollah Khomeini at Neauphle-le Chateau surrounded by journalists

However, the government still continued the policy of appeasement and negotiation.[16][17][111][128] The Shah ordered the arrest of 100 officials from his own government for charges of corruption, including former prime minister Amir Abbas-Hoveyda and former SAVAK head Nematollah Nassiri.[16][17][111]

Military authorities declared martial law in Khuzestan province (Iran's main oil producing province), and deployed troops to its oil facilities. Navy personnel were also used as strikebreakers in the oil industry.[13][96][127] Street marches declined and oil production began increasing once again, nearly reaching pre-revolutionary levels.[96][127] In a symbolic blow to the opposition, Karim Sanjabi, who had visited Khomeini in Paris, was arrested upon Khomeini's return to Iran.[106]

The speech backfired when the revolutionaries sensed weakness from the Shah and "smelled blood".[111][129] Khomeini announced that there would be no reconciliation with the Shah and called on all Iranians to overthrow him.[111][129]

The same day, the Shah made a speech on Iranian television.[16][17][128] He referred to himself as Padeshah (king), instead of the more grandiose Shahanshah (king of kings), which he insisted on being called previously.[106] In his speech he stated "I have heard the voice of your revolution"..."this revolution cannot but be supported by me, the king of Iran".[106][129] He apologized for mistakes that were committed during his reign, and promised to ensure that corruption would no longer exist.[111][128] He stated he would begin to work with the opposition to bring democracy, and would form a coalition government.[13][111][128] In effect, the Shah intended to restrain the military government (which he described as a temporary caretaker government) from carrying out a full crackdown.[106]

On November 6, the Shah dismissed Sharif-Emami from the post of prime minister, and chose to appoint a military government in its place.[16][127] General Gholam-Reza Azhari was chosen to be prime minister. Azhari was chosen by the Shah because of his mild-mannered approach to the situation.[13][96][127] The cabinet he would choose was a military cabinet in name only, and consisted primarily of civilian leaders.[127]

As the situation on the streets spiraled out of control, many well known and reputable figures within the country began to approach the Shah, begging him to stop the chaos.[16][23][96][111]

Appointment of a military government

Many of the rioters were young teenage boys, often organized by the mosques in southern Tehran, and encouraged by their mullahs to attack and destroy western and secular symbols.[22][111][127] The army and police, confused about their orders and under pressure from the Shah not to risk initiating violence, effectively gave up and did not intervene.[96][111][127][128]

On November 5, demonstrations at University of Tehran became deadly after a fight broke out with armed soldiers.[12][22][106][111] Within hours, Tehran broke out into a full-scale riot. Block after block of Western symbols such as movie theaters and department stores, as well as government and police buildings, were seized, looted, and burned. The British embassy in Tehran was partially burned and vandalized as well, and the American embassy nearly suffered the same fate (the event became known to foreign observers as "The Day Tehran Burned").[13][96][111][111][127]

Street demonstrations continued at full force with little response from the military; by late October, government officials effectively even ceded the University of Tehran to student protesters.[106][111] Worse, the opposition was increasingly becoming armed with weapons, firing at soldiers and attacking banks and government buildings in an attempt to destabilize the country.[23][96]

Continued conflict

In November, secular National Front leader Karim Sanjabi flew to Paris to meet Khomeini. There the two signed an agreement for a draft constitution that would be "Islamic and democratic". It signaled the now official alliance between the clergy and the secular opposition.[16][104] In order to help create a democratic facade, Khomeini placed Westernized figures (such as Sadegh Qotbzadeh and Ebrahim Yazdi) as the public spokesmen of the opposition, and never spoke to the media of his intentions to create a theocracy.[16]

In addition, the media coverage eroded the influence of other, more moderate clergy such as Ayatollah Shariatmadari and Ayatollah Taleghani.[104][106][111] The BBC itself later issued a statement admitting to having a "critical" disposition to the Shah, saying that its broadcasts helped to "change the collective perception of the population."[16]

Worse for the Shah, the Western media, especially the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), immediately put Khomeini into the spotlight.[17][126] Khomeini rapidly became a household name in the west, portraying himself as an "Eastern mystic" who did not seek power, but instead sought to "free" his people from "oppression". The normally critical western media rapidly became a docile tool in Khomeini's hands.[17][96]

Hoping to break Khomeini's contacts with the opposition, the Shah pressured the Iraqi government to expel him from Najaf. Khomeini left Iraq, instead moving to a house bought by Iranian exiles in Neauphle-le-Château, a village near Paris, France. The Shah hoped that Khomeini would be cut off from the mosques of Najaf and be cut off from the protest movement. Instead, the plan backfired badly. With superior French telephone and postal connections (compared to Iraqi ones), his supporters flooded Iran with tapes and recordings of his sermons.[17][96][111]

Khomeini moves to the West

The Shah did not attempt to crack down on strikers,[106] but instead gave them generous wage increases, and allowed strikers who lived in government housing to remain in their homes.[13][16][106] By the beginning of November, many important officials in the Shah's government were demanding from the Shah forceful measures to bring the strikers back to work.[13][16][30][96]

[12] By late October, a nationwide

On September 9, 700 workers at Tehran's main oil refinery went on strike, and on September 11 the same occurred at refineries in 5 other cities. On September 13, central government workers in Tehran simultaneously went on strike.[16][17][30]

Nationwide strikes

General strike, increasing opposition, and military government

The Shah himself was horrified by the events of Black Friday, and harshly criticized the events, though this did little to sway public perception of him as being responsible for the shooting.[16][104][109] While martial law officially remained in effect, the government decided not to break up any more demonstrations or strikes (in effect "martial law without there exactly being martial law", according to Sharif-Emami), instead continuing to negotiate with protest leaders.[106] Consequently, protest gatherings often took place without any serious intervention by soldiers.[111]

The deaths shocked the country, and damaged any attempt at reconciliation between the Shah and the opposition. Khomeini immediately declared that "4,000 innocent protesters were massacred by Zionists", and gave him a pretext to reject any further compromise with the government.

Reactions to Black Friday

However, 5,000 protesters took to the streets, either in defiance or because they had missed hearing the declaration, and faced off with soldiers at Jaleh Square.[13][22][96] After the firing warning shots failed to disperse the crowd, troops fired directly into the mob, killing 64,[104] while General Oveissi claimed that 30 soldiers were killed by armed snipers in surrounding buildings.[13][17][23][96][104][107][117] Additional clashes throughout the day (which would be called Black Friday by the opposition) brought the opposition death toll to 89.[16][110]

At midnight on September 8, the Shah declared martial law in Tehran and 11 other major cities throughout the country. All street demonstrations were banned, and a night-time curfew was established. Tehran's martial law commander was General Gholam-Ali Oveissi, who was known for his severity against opponents.[13][16][17][30][96][110][116] However, the Shah made clear that once martial law was lifted he intended to continue with the liberalization, he retained Sharif-Emami's civilian government, hoping that protesters would avoid taking the streets.[96][105][106]

September 4 was Eid-e-Fitr, the holiday celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan. A permit for an open air prayer was granted, in which 200,000–500,000 people attended.[104] Instead, the clergy directed the crowd on a large march through the center of Tehran (the Shah reportedly watched the march from his helicopter, unnerved and confused).[104] A few days later even larger protests took place, and for the first time protesters called for Khomeini's return and the establishment of an Islamic republic.[104]

Victims of Black Friday

Declaration of martial law and Black Friday

Under the Shah's guidance, Sharif-Emami effectively began a policy of "appeasing the opposition's demands before they even made them".[17] The government abolished the Rastakhiz Party, legalized all political parties and released political prisoners, increased freedom of expression, curtailed SAVAK's authority and dismissed 34 of its commanders,[106] closed down casinos and nightclubs, and abolished the imperial calendar. The government also began to prosecute corrupt government and royal family members. Sharif-Emami entered into negotiations with Ayatollah Shariatmadari and National Front leader Karim Sanjabi in order to help organize future elections.[106] Censorship was effectively terminated, and the newspapers began reporting heavily on demonstrations, often highly critically and negatively of the Shah. The Majlis (Parliament) also began issuing resolutions against the government.[16]

The Shah increasingly felt that he was losing control of the situation and hoped to regain it through complete appeasement.[13][96] He decided to appoint Jafar Sharif-Emami to the post of prime minister, himself a veteran prime minister. Emami was chosen due to his family ties to the clergy, but had a reputation of corruption during his previous premiership.[16][17]

A series of escalating protests broke out in major cities, and deadly riots broke out in Isfahan where protesters fought for the release of Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri.[12][104] Martial law was declared in the city on August 11 as symbols of Western culture and government buildings were burned, and a bus full of American workers was bombed.[104][106] Due to his failure to stop the protests, Prime Minister Amuzegar offered his resignation.

By August, the protests had “kick[ed] ... into high gear,”[125] and the number of demonstrators mushroomed to hundreds of thousands.[113] In an attempt to dampen inflation the Amuzegar administration cut spending and reduced business, but the cutbacks led to a sharp rise in layoffs – particularly among young, unskilled, male workers living in the working class districts. By summer 1978, the working class joined the street protests in massive numbers.[110] In addition, it was the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, bringing a sense of increased religiosity among many people.[104]

Appointment of Jafar Sharif-Emami as prime minister

After the revolution, it was disclosed that Islamist militants started the fire.[116][118][119][120][121][122] After the Islamic Republic government wrongfully executed a police officer for the act, the lone surviving arsonist, angered that somebody else was receiving credit for his act, admitted to starting the fire.[123][124] After forcing the resignation of the presiding judges in an attempt to hamper the investigation, the new government finally executed Hossein Talakhzadeh for "setting the fire on the Shah's orders" (despite his insistence he did it on his own accord as an ultimate sacrifice for the revolutionary cause).[118][123][124]

On August 19, in the southwestern city of Abadan, four arsonists barred the door of the Cinema Rex movie theater and set it on fire. In what was the largest terrorist attack in history prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks,[116] 422 people inside the theater were burned to death. Khomeini immediately blamed the Shah and SAVAK for setting the fire.[13][96][117] Due to the pervasive revolutionary atmosphere, the public also blamed the Shah for starting the fire, despite the government's insistence that they were uninvolved. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets shouting "Burn the Shah!" and "The Shah is the guilty one!".[108]

Cinema Rex Fire

Renewed protests

As a sign of easing of government restrictions, three prominent opposition leaders from the secular National Front: Karim Sanjabi, Shahpour Bakhtiar, and Dariush Forouhar were allowed to write an open letter to the Shah demanding that he reign according to the constitution of Iran.[13][96][106]

Against the wishes of Khomeini, Shariatmadari called for the June 17 mourning protests were carried out as a one-day stay at home strike.[104] Although tensions remained in the air, the Shah's policy appeared to have worked, leading Amuzegar to declare that "the crisis is over". A CIA analysis concluded that Iran "is not in a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation."[114] Indeed, these and later events in Iran are frequently cited as one of the most consequential strategic surprises that the United States has experienced since the CIA was established in 1947.[115]

By summer, the protests had stagnated. They remained at a steady state for four months – about ten thousand participants in each major city (with the exception of Isfahan where protests were larger and Tehran where they were smaller), protesting every 40 days. This amounted to a small minority of the more than 15 million adults in Iran.[113]

Early summer

The Shah of Iran (left) meeting with members of the U.S. government: Alfred Atherton, William Sullivan, Cyrus Vance, Jimmy Carter, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1977

As early as the Tabriz riots in February, the Shah fired all the SAVAK officials in the city in a concession to the opposition, and soon began to dismiss civil servants and government officials whom he felt the public blamed.[13][23][23][111] In the first national concession, he replaced the hardline SAVAK chief General Nematollah Nassiri with the more moderate General Nasser Moghaddam.[16][111] The government also negotiated to moderate religious leaders such as Shariatmadari (apologizing to the latter for the raid on his house).[17]

Iran's security forces had not received any riot control training nor equipment since 1963.[109] Police forces were unable to control demonstrations and the army frequently was deployed in that role.[111] Soldiers were instructed not to use deadly force, yet there were instances of inexperienced soldiers reacting excessively, inflaming the violence without cowing the opposition, and receiving official condemnation from the Shah.[109](The Carter Administration also refused to sell non-lethal tear gas and rubber bullets to Iran).[96][112]

The Shah decided to continue on his plan of liberalization, and decided to negotiate rather than to use force against the still nascent protest movement.[104][105][106][111] He promised that fully democratic elections for the Majlis would be held in 1979. Censorship was relaxed, and a resolution was drafted to help reduce corruption within the royal family and the government.[106] Protesters were tried in civilian courts rather than by military court-martials, and were quickly released.[108][111]

The Shah was taken completely by surprise by the protests;[13][23] to make matters worse he often became indecisive during times of crisis.[16] Virtually every major decision he would make would backfire on his government, instead inflaming the revolutionaries.[16]

Government reaction

Forty days later (March 29), demonstrations were organized in at least 55 cities, including Tehran.[104] In an increasingly predictable pattern, deadly riots broke out in major cities,[104][111] and again forty days later on May 10. It led to an incident in which army commandos opened fire on Ayatollah Shariatmadari's house, killing one of his students. Shariatmadari immediately made a public announcement declaring his support for a "constitutional government", and a return to the policies of the 1906 Constitution.[13][96][104]

On February 18, forty days after Qom clashes, demonstrations broke out in various different cities.[108] The largest was in Tabriz, which descended into a full-scale riot. "Western" and government symbols such as cinemas, bars, state-owned banks, and police stations were set ablaze.[104] Units of Imperial Iranian Army were deployed to the city to restore order, and the final death toll was 6[109] (while Khomeini claimed hundreds were "martyred").[13][30][96][110]

[107][106][104][22] According to the Shi'ite customs, memorial services (called

Consolidation of the opposition

Upon the publishing of the article, religious seminary students in the city of Qom, angered over the insult to Khomeini, clashed with police. According to the government, two were killed in the clash; according to the opposition, seventy were killed and over five hundred were injured. However, the casualty figures are different in different sources.[16][17][96][101][102][103]

On January 7, 1978, an article ("Iran and the Red and Black Colonialism") appeared in the national daily Ettela'at newspaper. Written under a pseudonym by a government agent, it denounced Khomeini as a "British agent" and a "mad Indian poet" conspiring to sell out Iran to neo-colonialists and communists.[16][17]

Beginning of protests

The chain of events began with the death of Mostafa Khomeini, chief aide and eldest son of Ruhollah Khomeini. He mysteriously died at midnight of October 23, 1977. SAVAK and Iraqi government declared heart attack as the cause of demise. Though many believed this death was attributed to SAVAK.[97] Khomeini remained silent after the incident, but in Iran with the spread of the news there was a wave of protest in several cities and mourning ceremonies in major cities were held.[98][99] The mourning of Mostafa was given a political cast by the Khomeini’s political credentials, their enduring opposition to the monarchy and their exile. Thus dimension of the ceremonies went beyond the religious credentials of the family.[100]

Led by the leftist intellectual Saeed Soltanpour, the Iranian Writers Association met at the Goethe Institute in Tehran to read anti-government poetry.[30] Ali Shariati's death in the United Kingdom shortly after led to another public demonstration, with the opposition accusing the Shah of "murdering" him (although it was later ruled he died naturally of a heart attack).[17][30]

By 1977, the Shah's policy of political liberalization was underway. Secular opponents of the Shah began to meet together in secret to denounce the government.[30][96]

Part of a series on the
History of the
Iranian Revolution
Return of Khomeini from exile



That year also saw the death of the popular and influential modernist Islamist theorist Ali Shariati. This both angered his followers, who considered him a martyr at the hands of SAVAK, and removed a potential revolutionary rival to Khomeini. Finally, in October Khomeini's son Mostafa died of a heart attack, his death also blamed on SAVAK. A subsequent memorial service for Mostafa in Tehran put Khomeini back in the spotlight.[94][95]

[93] In 1977 the Shah responded to the "polite reminder" of the importance of political rights by the new American president,

All Iranians were required to join and pay dues to a new political party, the Rastakhiz party – all other parties being banned.[90] That party's attempt to fight inflation with populist "anti-profiteering" campaigns – fining and jailing merchants for high prices – angered and politicized merchants while fueling black markets.[91]

The oil boom of the 1970s produced "alarming" increase in inflation and waste and an "accelerating gap" between the rich and poor, the city and the country,[86] along with the presence of tens of thousands of unpopular skilled foreign workers. Many Iranians were also angered by the fact that the shah's family was the foremost beneficiary of the income generated by oil, and the line between state earnings and family earnings blurred. By 1976, the shah had accumulated upward of one billion dollars from oil revenue; his family—including sixty-three princes and princesses—had accumulated between five and twenty billion dollars; and the family foundation controlled approximately three billion dollars[87] By mid-1977 economic austerity measures to fight inflation disproportionately affected the thousands of poor and unskilled male migrants to the cities working construction. Culturally and religiously conservative,[88] many went on to form the core of the revolution's demonstrators and "martyrs".[89]

The 1971 [84] Five years later the Shah angered pious Iranian Muslims by changing the first year of the Iranian solar calendar from the Islamic hijri to the ascension to the throne by Cyrus the Great. "Iran jumped overnight from the Muslim year 1355 to the royalist year 2535."[85]

Several events in the 1970s set the stage for the 1979 revolution.


In the post-Shah era, some revolutionaries who clashed with his theocracy and were suppressed by his movement complained of deception,[82] but in the meantime anti-Shah unity was maintained.[83]

Khomeini worked to unite this opposition behind him (except for the unwanted `atheistic Marxists`),[76][77] focusing on the socio-economic problems of the Shah's government (corruption and unequal income and development),[76][78] while avoiding specifics among the public that might divide the factions,[79] – particularly his plan for clerical rule which he believed most Iranians had become prejudiced against as a result of propaganda campaign by Western imperialists.[80][81]

Some important clergy did not follow Khomeini's lead. Popular ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani supported the left, while perhaps the most senior and influential ayatollah in Iran – Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari – first remained aloof from politics and then came out in support of a democratic revolution.

Marxist groups – primarily the communist Fedaian guerrillas[73] – had been weakened considerably by government repression. Despite this the guerrillas did help play an important part in the final February 1979 overthrow[74] delivering "the regime its coup de grace."[75] The most powerful guerrilla group – the People's Mujahedin – was leftist Islamist and opposed the influence of the clergy as reactionary.

[72] Other opposition groups included

Opposition groups and organizations

This idea of rule by Islamic jurists was spread through his book Islamic Government, mosque sermons, smuggled cassette speeches by Khomeini,[70] among Khomeini's opposition network of students (talabeh), ex-students (able clerics such as Morteza Motahhari, Mohammad Beheshti, Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Mofatteh), and traditional businessmen (bazaari) inside Iran.[70]

Away from public view, Khomeini developed the ideology of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) as government, that Muslims – in fact everyone – required "guardianship," in the form of rule or supervision by the leading Islamic jurist or jurists.[67] Such rule was ultimately "more necessary even than prayer and fasting" in Islam,[68] as it would protect Islam from deviation from traditional sharia law and in so doing eliminate poverty, injustice, and the "plundering" of Muslim land by foreign non-believers.[69]

Most importantly, Khomeini preached that revolt, and especially martyrdom, against injustice and tyranny was part of Shia Islam,[66] and that Muslims should reject the influence of both liberal capitalism and communism, ideas that inspired the revolutionary slogan "Neither East, nor West – Islamic Republic!"

In this interim period of "disaffected calm"[63] the budding Iranian revival began to undermine the idea of Westernization as progress that was the basis of the Shah's secular reign, and to form the ideology of the 1979 revolution. Jalal Al-e-Ahmad's idea of Gharbzadegi – that Western culture was a plague or an intoxication to be eliminated;[64] Ali Shariati's vision of Islam as the one true liberator of the Third World from oppressive colonialism, neo-colonialism, and capitalism;[65] and Morteza Motahhari's popularized retellings of the Shia faith, all spread and gained listeners, readers and supporters.[64]

Ideology of the Iranian Revolution

Khomeini was arrested in 1963 after declaring the Shah a "wretched miserable man" who had "embarked on the [path toward] destruction of Islam in Iran."[60] Three days of major riots throughout Iran followed, with Khomeini supporters claiming 15,000 dead from police fire.[61] However, post-revolutionary estimates determined a much lower number of 32 killed.[62] Khomeini was released after eight months of house arrest and continued his agitation, condemning Iran's close cooperation with Israel and its capitulations, or extension of diplomatic immunity to American government personnel in Iran. In November 1964 Khomeini was re-arrested and sent into exile where he remained for 15 years, until the revolution.

The post-revolutionary leader – Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – first came to political prominence in 1963 when he led opposition to the Shah and his "White Revolution", a program of reforms that amongst other things, broke up land holdings (including those owned by religious foundations) and allowed religious minorities to hold government office.

Rise of Ayatollah Khomeini

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was the son of Reza Shah, maintained a close relationship with the U.S. government, both regimes sharing an opposition to the expansion of the Soviet Union, Iran's powerful northern neighbor. Like his father's government, the Shah's was known for its autocracy, its focus on modernization and Westernization and for its disregard for religious[59] and democratic measures in Iran's constitution. Leftist, nationalist and Islamist groups attacked his government (often from outside Iran as they were suppressed within) for violating the Iranian constitution, political corruption, and the political oppression by the SAVAK secret police.

In 1941 Reza Shah was deposed and his son, military coup d'état to oust the nationalist and democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.[58]

1953 Iranian coup d'état

Insecurity and chaos created after the Constitutional Revolution lead to the rise of the Reza Khan. He established a constitutional monarchy, and introduced many social, economic, and political reforms during his reign. A number of these reforms led to public discontent which provides circumstances for an Iranian revolution. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's father, Khomeini was a student of Sheikh Abdul Karim Ha’eri.[57]

Reza Shah

The growing discontent continued until the Constitutional Revolution. The revolution led to the establishment of a Parliament and approval of the first constitution. Although the constitutional revolution was successful in weakening the autocracy of the Qajar regime, it failed to provide a powerful alternative government. Consequently, within the decades following the establishment of the new parliament, a number of critical events took place. Many of these events can be viewed as a continuation of the struggle between the constitutionalists and the Shahs of Persia, many of whom were backed by foreign powers against the parliament.

Persian Constitutional Revolution

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Press conference on international oil policies. Niavaran Palace, Tehran, 1971.

The Shi'a clergy (Ulema) had a significant influence on Iranian society. The clergy first showed itself to be a powerful political force in opposition to the monarchy with the 1891 Tobacco Protest. On March 20, 1890, Nasir al-Din Shah granted a concession to Major G. F. Talbot for a full monopoly over the production, sale, and export of tobacco for fifty years.[48] At the time the Persian tobacco industry employed over 200,000 people and therefore the concession represented a major blow to Persian farmers and bazaaris whose livelihoods were largely dependent on the lucrative tobacco business.[49] The boycotts and protests against it were widespread and extensive because of Mirza Hasan Shirazi’s fatwa (judicial decree).[50] Finally Nasir al-Din Shah found himself powerless to stop the popular movement and cancelled the concession.[51] The Tobacco Protest was the first significant Iranians resistance against the Shah and foreign interests, and revealed the power of the people and the Ulema influence among them.[52]

Tobacco Protest

Historical background

That the revolution replaced the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi with Islamism and Khomeini, rather than with another leader and ideology, is credited in part to the spread of the Shia version of the Islamic revival that opposed Westernization and saw Ayatollah Khomeini as following in the footsteps of the Shi'a Imam Husayn ibn Ali and the Shah in the role of Husayn's foe, the hated tyrant Yazid I.[43] Other factors include the underestimation of Khomeini's Islamist movement by both the Shah's reign – who considered them a minor threat compared to the Marxists and Islamic socialists[44][45][46] – and by the secularist, opponents of the government – who thought the Khomeinists could be sidelined.[47]

The Shah's regime became increasingly oppressive, brutal,[35][36] corrupt, and extravagant.[35][37] It also suffered from basic functional failures that brought economic bottlenecks, shortages, and inflation.[38] The Shah was perceived by many as beholden to — if not a puppet of — a non-Muslim Western power (the United States)[39][40] whose culture was affecting that of Iran. At the same time, support for the Shah may have waned among Western politicians and media – especially under the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter – as a result of the Shah's support for OPEC petroleum price increases earlier in the decade.[41] When President Carter enacted a human-rights policy which said countries guilty of human-rights violations would be deprived of American arms or aid, this helped give some Iranians the courage to post open letters and petitions in the hope that the repression by the government might subside.[42]

Reasons advanced for the occurrence of the revolution and its populist, nationalist and, later, Shi'a Islamic character include a conservative backlash against the Westernizing and secularizing efforts of the Western-backed Shah,[32] a liberal backlash to social injustice,[33] a rise in expectations created by the 1973 oil revenue windfall and an overly ambitious economic program, anger over a short, sharp economic contraction in 1977–78,[34] and other shortcomings of the previous regime.



  • Causes 1
  • Historical background 2
    • Tobacco Protest 2.1
    • Persian Constitutional Revolution 2.2
    • Reza Shah 2.3
    • 1953 Iranian coup d'état 2.4
    • Rise of Ayatollah Khomeini 2.5
      • Ideology of the Iranian Revolution 2.5.1
      • Opposition groups and organizations 2.5.2
    • 1970–1977 2.6
  • Revolution 3
    • Outbreak 3.1
      • Beginning of protests 3.1.1
      • Consolidation of the opposition 3.1.2
        • Government reaction
      • Early summer 3.1.3
    • Renewed protests 3.2
      • Cinema Rex Fire 3.2.1
      • Appointment of Jafar Sharif-Emami as prime minister 3.2.2
      • Declaration of martial law and Black Friday 3.2.3
        • Reactions to Black Friday
    • General strike, increasing opposition, and military government 3.3
      • Nationwide strikes 3.3.1
      • Khomeini moves to the West 3.3.2
      • Continued conflict 3.3.3
      • Appointment of a military government 3.3.4
    • Muharram protests 3.4
      • Tasu'a and Ashura marches 3.4.1
    • The Shah's exile and Khomeini's return 3.5
      • Demoralization of the Army 3.5.1
      • American and Internal Negotiations with the opposition 3.5.2
      • The Shah leaves 3.5.3
      • Bakhtiar's Premiership and Khomeini's return 3.5.4
    • Armed battles and collapse of the monarchy 3.6
    • Casualties 3.7
  • Aftermath 4
    • Consolidation of power by Khomeini 4.1
      • Conflicts among revolutionaries 4.1.1
      • Organizations of the revolution 4.1.2
      • 1979 uprisings 4.1.3
      • Establishment of Islamic republic government 4.1.4
        • Referendum of 12 Farvardin
        • Writing of the constitution
      • Hostage Crisis 4.1.5
      • Suppression of opposition 4.1.6
        • Newspaper closings
        • Muslim People's Republican Party
        • Islamist left
    • Impact 4.2
      • International 4.2.1
        • Persian Gulf and the Iran–Iraq War
        • Western/U.S.-Iranian relations
        • Other countries
      • Domestic 4.2.2
        • Human development
        • Politics and government
        • Women
        • Economy
  • Gallery 5
  • See also 6
  • References and notes 7
    • Bibliography 7.1
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Its outcome – an Islamic Republic "under the guidance of a religious scholar from Qom" – was, as one scholar put it, "clearly an occurrence that had to be explained".[31]

The revolution was unusual for the surprise it created throughout the world:[24] it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military),[25] occurred in a nation that was enjoying relatively good material wealth and prosperity,[16][23] produced profound change at great speed,[26] was massively popular, resulted in the exile of many Iranians,[27] and replaced a pro-Western semi-absolute monarchy[16] with an anti-Western authoritarian theocracy[16][22][23][28][29] based on the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). It was a relatively non-violent revolution, and helped to redefine the meaning and practice of modern revolutions (although there was violence in its aftermath).[30]

Demonstrations against the Shah commenced in October 1977, developing into a campaign of civil resistance that included both secular and religious elements.[12][13][14] and which intensified in January 1978.[15] Between August and December 1978 strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The Shah left Iran for exile on January 16, 1979, as the last Persian monarch, leaving his duties to a regency council and an opposition-based prime minister. Ayatollah Khomeini was invited back to Iran by the government,[16][17] and returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians.[18] The royal reign collapsed shortly after on February 11 when guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting, bringing Khomeini to official power.[19][20] Iran voted by national referendum to become an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979,[21] and to approve a new theocratic-republican constitution[12][13][22][23] whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country, in December 1979.

and Iranian student movements. [11]

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