Iranian Revolution

Iranian Revolution

Overview
The Iranian Revolution (also known as the Islamic Revolution or 1979 Revolution; Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

: انقلاب اسلامی, Enghelābe Eslāmi orانقلاب بیست و دو بهمن) refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

 (Pahlavi dynasty) under Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 and its replacement with an Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 under Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

, the leader of the revolution.

Demonstrations
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

 against the Shah commenced in October 1977, developing into a campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

 that was partly secular and partly religious, and intensified in January 1978.
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Encyclopedia
The Iranian Revolution (also known as the Islamic Revolution or 1979 Revolution; Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

: انقلاب اسلامی, Enghelābe Eslāmi orانقلاب بیست و دو بهمن) refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

 (Pahlavi dynasty) under Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 and its replacement with an Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 under Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

, the leader of the revolution.

Demonstrations
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

 against the Shah commenced in October 1977, developing into a campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

 that was partly secular and partly religious, and intensified in January 1978. Between August and December 1978 strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

s and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The Shah left Iran for exile in mid-January 1979, and in the resulting power vacuum two weeks later Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 to a greeting by several million Iranians. The royal regime collapsed shortly after on February 11 when guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran voted by national referendum
Iranian Islamic Republic referendum, March 1979
A referendum on creating an Islamic Republic was held in Iran on 30 and 31 March 1979. It was approved by 99.3% of voters.-Results:...

 to become an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, and to approve a new theocratic constitution
Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was adopted by referendum on October 24, 1979, and went into force on December 3 of that year, replacing the Constitution of 1906. It was amended on July 28, 1989. The constitution has been called a "hybrid" of "authoritarian, theocratic and...

 whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 of the country, in December 1979.

The revolution was unusual for the surprise it created throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis
Financial crisis
The term financial crisis is applied broadly to a variety of situations in which some financial institutions or assets suddenly lose a large part of their value. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many financial crises were associated with banking panics, and many recessions coincided with these...

, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military); produced profound change at great speed; was massively popular; and replaced a modernising monarchy with a theocracy
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

 based on Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). Its outcome—an Islamic Republic "under the guidance of an extraordinary religious scholar from Qom
Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....

"—was, as one scholar put it, "clearly an occurrence that had to be explained".

Causes



Iran was an overly centralized royal power structure state, which was heavily protected by a lavishly financed army and security services. The revolution was in part a conservative backlash against the Westernizing
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

 and secularizing efforts of the Western-backed Shah, and a liberal backlash to social injustice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 and other shortcomings of the ancien régime.
The Shah was perceived by many as beholden to – if not a puppet of – an alien Western power (the United States) whose culture was affecting that of Iran. The Shah's regime was seen by his opposition as oppressive, brutal, corrupt, and extravagant; it also suffered from basic functional failures – an over-ambitious economic program that brought economic bottlenecks, shortages and inflation.

That the revolution replaced monarchy and Shah Pahlavi with Islamism
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 and Khomeini, rather than another leader and ideology, is credited in part to the spread of the Shia version of the Islamic revival
Islamic revival
Islamic revival refers to a revival of the Islamic religion throughout the Islamic world, that began roughly sometime in 1970s and is manifested in greater religious piety, and community feeling, and in a growing adoption of Islamic culture, dress, terminology, separation of the sexes, and values...

 that opposed Westernization
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

, saw Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Khomeini as following in the footsteps of the beloved Shi'a Imam Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali
Hussein ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib ‎ was the son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and Fātimah Zahrā...

, and the Shah in those of Husayn's foe, the hated tyrant Yazid I
Yazid I
Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān , commonly known as Yazid I, was the second Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate . He ruled for three years from 680 CE until his death in 683 CE. Many Muslims condemn Yazid's rule as contentious and unjust...

.
Also thought responsible was the underestimation of Khomeini's Islamist movement by both the Shah's regime – who considered them a minor threat compared to the Marxists and Islamic socialist
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

s – and by the secularist opponents of the regime – who thought the Khomeinists could be sidelined.

Historical background


Shi'a clergy (Ulema
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

) have had a significant influence on most Iranians, who have tended to be religious, traditional, and opposed to any process of Westernization . The clergy first showed themselves to be a powerful political force in opposition to Iran's monarch with the 1891 Tobacco Protest
Tobacco Protest
The Tobacco Protest, was a Shi'a cleric-led revolt in Iran against an 1890 tobacco concession granted by the Shah to the Western imperial power of Great Britain. The protest climaxed in a widely-obeyed December 1891 fatwa against tobacco use supposedly issued by Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi...

 boycott that effectively destroyed an unpopular concession
Concession (contract)
A concession is a business operated under a contract or license associated with a degree of exclusivity in business within a certain geographical area. For example, sports arenas or public parks may have concession stands. Many department stores contain numerous concessions operated by other...

 granted by the Shah giving a British company a monopoly over buying and selling Tobacco in Iran.

Decades later monarchy and clerics clashed again, this time monarchy holding the upper hand. Shah Pahlavi's father, army general Reza Pahlavi
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

, replaced Islamic laws
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 with western ones, and forbade traditional Islamic clothing, separation of the sexes and veiling of women (hijab
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

). Police forcibly removed and tore chador
Chador
A chādor or chādar is an outer garment or open cloak worn by many Iranian women and female teenagers in public spaces. Wearing this garment is one possible way in which a Muslim woman can follow the Islamic dress code known as ḥijāb. A chador is a full-body-length semicircle of fabric that is...

s off women who resisted his ban on public hijab. In 1935 dozens were killed and hundreds injured when a rebellion by pious Shi'a at the most holy Shi'a shrine in Iran was crushed on his orders.

In 1941, Reza Shah was deposed and his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

, was installed by an invasion of allied British and Soviet troops
Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran was the Allied invasion of the Imperial State of Iran during World War II, by British, Commonwealth, and Soviet armed forces. The invasion from August 25 to September 17, 1941, was codenamed Operation Countenance...

. In 1953, foreign powers (American and British) again came to the Shah's aid—after the Shah fled the country, the British MI6 aided an American CIA operative in organizing a military coup d'état to oust the nationalist and democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

Shah Pahlavi maintained a close relationship with the United States government, both regimes sharing a fear of/opposition to the expansion of Soviet/Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n state, Iran's powerful northern neighbor. Like his father's regime, Shah Pahlavi's was known for its autocracy
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

, its focus on modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

 and Westernization
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

 and for its disregard for religious 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
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, and the political oppression by the SAVAK (secret police).

Rise of Ayatollah Khomeini


The post-revolutionary leader – Shia cleric Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ruhollah Khomeini – first came to political prominence in 1963 when he led opposition to the Shah and his "White Revolution
White Revolution
The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah’s reform program was built especially to strengthen those classes that supported the traditional system...

", a program of reforms to break up landholdings (including those owned by religious foundations) and allow religious minorities to hold government office.

Khomeini was arrested in 1963 after declaring the Shah a "wretched miserable man" who had "embarked on the destruction of Islam in Iran." Three days of major riots throughout Iran followed, with Khomeini supporters claiming 15,000 dead from police fire. However, much lower estimates of 380 killed and wounded were later made. Khomeini was released after eight months of house arrest and continued his agitation, condemning the regime's close cooperation with Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and its capitulations
Capitulation (treaty)
A capitulation , or ahidnâme, is a treaty or unilateral contract by which a sovereign state relinquishes jurisdiction within its borders over the subjects of a foreign state...

, 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 14 years until the revolution.

Exile period


In this interim period of "disaffected calm" the budding Iranian revival began to undermine the idea of Westernization as progress that was the basis of the Shah's secular regime, and to form the ideology of the 1979 revolution. Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a prominent Iranian writer, thinker, and social and political critic.-Personal life:...

's idea of Gharbzadegi
Gharbzadegi
Gharbzadegi is a pejorative Persian term variously translated as "Westoxification," "West-struck-ness" "Westitis", "Euromania", or "Occidentosis"...

 – that Western culture was a plague or an intoxication to be eliminated; Ali Shariati
Ali Shariati
Ali Shariati was an Iranian revolutionary and sociologist, who focused on the sociology of religion. He is held as one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century and has been called the 'ideologue of the Iranian Revolution'.-Biography:Ali....

's vision of Islam as the one true liberator of the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 from oppressive colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

, neo-colonialism, and capitalism; and Morteza Motahhari
Morteza Motahhari
Ayatollah Murtaza Motahhari was an Iranian scholar, cleric, lecturer, and politician.Motahhari is considered among the important influences on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, and was a co-founder of Hosseiniye Ershad and the Combatant Clergy Association...

's popularized retellings of the Shia faith, all spread and gained listeners, readers and supporters.
Most importantly, Khomeini preached that revolt, and especially martyrdom, against injustice and tyranny was part of Shia Islam, and that Muslims should reject the influence of both liberal capitalism and communism with the slogan "Neither East, nor West – Islamic Republic!"

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. Such rule was ultimately "more necessary even than prayer and fasting" in Islam, as it would protect Islam from deviation from traditional sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 law, and in so doing eliminate poverty, injustice, and the "plundering" of Muslim land by foreign non-believers.

This idea of rule by Islamic jurists was spread through his book Islamic Government, mosque sermons, smuggled cassette speeches by Khomeini, among Khomeini's opposition network of students (talabeh), ex-students (able clerics such as Morteza Motahhari
Morteza Motahhari
Ayatollah Murtaza Motahhari was an Iranian scholar, cleric, lecturer, and politician.Motahhari is considered among the important influences on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, and was a co-founder of Hosseiniye Ershad and the Combatant Clergy Association...

, Mohammad Beheshti, Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

 and Mohammad Mofatteh
Mohammad Mofatteh
Mohammad Mofatteh was an Iranian philosopher.Dr. Mohammad Mofateh, the skillful philosopher, was born in 1928 in Hamedan.- Education :He had attended Akhund Mullah Ali Hamedani’s school in Hamadan...

), and traditional business leaders (bazaari
Bazaari
Bazaari is the name given to the merchants and workers of bazaars, the traditional marketplaces of Iran. Bazaaris are involved in "petty trade of a traditional, or nearly traditional, kind, centered on the bazaar and its Islamic culture." Bazaari have been described as "the class of people who...

) inside Iran.

Opposition groups and organizations


Other opposition groups included constitutionalist liberals – the democratic, reformist Islamic Freedom Movement of Iran
Freedom Movement of Iran
The Freedom Movement of Iran is an Iranian political organization which was founded in 1961 by Mehdi Bazargan, Mahmoud Taleghani, Yadollah Sahabi, Mostafa Chamran, Ali Shariati, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and some other political or religious figures...

, headed by Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan was a prominent Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He was the head of the first engineering department of Tehran University...

, and the more secular National Front. They were based in the urban middle class, and wanted the Shah to adhere to the Iranian Constitution of 1906 rather than to replace him with a theocracy, but lacked the cohesion and organization of Khomeini's forces.

Marxists groups – primarily the communist Tudeh Party of Iran
Tudeh Party of Iran
The Tudeh Party of Iran is an Iranian communist party. Formed in 1941, with Soleiman Mohsen Eskandari as its head, it had considerable influence in its early years and played an important role during Mohammad Mosaddeq's campaign to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and his term as prime...

 and the Fedaian guerillas
Organization of Iranian People's Fedaian (Majority)
The Organization of Iranian People's Fadaian or Fedayan-e Khalq , 'Organization of self-sacrificers of the people of Iran ') is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Iran...

 – had been weakened considerably by government repression. Despite this the guerillas did help play an important part in the final February 1979 overthrow
delivering "the regime its coup de grace." The most powerful guerilla group – the People's Mujahedin
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 – was leftist Islamist and opposed the influence of the clergy as reactionary.

Many clergy did not follow Khomeini's lead. Popular ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani
Mahmoud Taleghani
Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani was an Iranian theologian, humanist, Muslim reformer, democracy advocate and a senior Shi'a cleric of Iran. Taleghani was a contemporary of the Iranian Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and a leader in his own right of Iran's Shi'a resistance movement...

 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.

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

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

1970–1977


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

The 1971 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire at Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

, organized by the Shah's regime, was attacked for its extravagance. "As the foreigners reveled on drink forbidden by Islam, Iranians were not only excluded from the festivities, some were starving." 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
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

. "Iran jumped overnight from the Muslim year 1355 to the royalist year 2535."

The oil boom of the 1970s
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 produced "alarming" increase in inflation and waste and an "accelerating gap" between the rich and poor, the city and the country, along with the presence of tens of thousand 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 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, many went on to form the core of revolution's demonstrators and "martyrs".

All Iranians were required to join and pay dues to a new political party, the Rastakhiz
Rastakhiz
Rastakhiz Party was founded on March 2, 1975 by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. The party was intended as Iran's new single party, holding a monopoly on political activity in Iran, and to which all Iranians were required to belong...

 party – all other parties being banned. 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.

In 1977 the Shah responded to the "polite reminder" of the importance of political rights by the new American President, Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, by granting amnesty to some prisoners and allowing the Red Cross to visit prisons. Through 1977 liberal opposition formed organizations and issued open letters denouncing the regime.

That year also saw the death of the popular and influential modernist Islamist leader Ali Shariati
Ali Shariati
Ali Shariati was an Iranian revolutionary and sociologist, who focused on the sociology of religion. He is held as one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century and has been called the 'ideologue of the Iranian Revolution'.-Biography:Ali....

. This both angered his followers, who considered him a martyr at the hands of SAVAK
SAVAK
SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah on the recommendation of the British Government and with the help of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency SAVAK (Persian: ساواک, short for سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور...

, 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.

Start of demonstrations in late 1977


The first militant anti-Shah demonstrations were in October 1977, after the death of Khomeini's son Mostafa. Khomeini's activists numbered "perhaps a few hundred in total", but over the coming months they grew to a mass of several thousand demonstrators in most cities of Iran.

The first casualties suffered in major demonstrations against the Shah came in January 1978. Hundreds of Islamist students and religious leaders in the city of Qom
Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....

 were furious over a story in the government-controlled press they felt was libelous. The army was sent in, dispersing the demonstrations and killing several students (two to nine according to the government, 70 or more according to the opposition).

According to the Shi'ite customs, memorial services (called Arba'een
Arba'een
Arba'een or Chelom , is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which over 10 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq. As it is known by Persian-speaking and Urdu-speaking Muslims in Central and South Asia, Arba'een is a Shia Muslim religious observation that occurs 40 days...

) are held forty days after a person's death. In mosques across the nation, calls were made to honour the dead students. Thus on February 18 groups in a number of cities marched to honor the fallen and protest against the rule of the Shah.

In May, government commandos burst into the home of Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari
Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari , also spelled Shariat-Madari , was an Iranian Grand Ayatollah.-Biography:...

, a leading cleric and political moderate, and shot dead one of his followers in front of him. Shariatmadari abandoned his quietist stance and joined the opposition to the Shah.

Shah and the United States


Facing a revolution, the Shah appealed to the United States for support. Because of Iran's history and strategic location, it was important to the United States
Foreign relations of the United States
The United States has formal diplomatic relations with most nations. The United States federal statutes relating to foreign relations can be found in Title 22 of the United States Code.-Pacific:-Americas:-Caribbean:...

. Iran shared a long border with America's cold war rival, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and was the largest, most powerful country in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The Shah had long been pro-American, but the Pahlavi regime had also recently garnered unfavorable publicity in the West for its human rights record. In the United States, Iran was not considered in danger of revolution. A CIA analysis in August 1978, just six months before the Shah fled Iran, had concluded that the country "is not in a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation."

According to historian Nikki Keddie
Nikki Keddie
Nikki R. Keddie is an professor of Eastern, Iranian, and women's history. She retired from the University of California, Los Angeles after 35 years of teaching...

, the administration of then President Carter followed "no clear policy" on Iran. The U.S. ambassador to Iran, William H. Sullivan
William H. Sullivan
William Healy Sullivan was an American Foreign Service career officer who served as Ambassador to Laos from 1964-1969, the Philippines from 1973-1977, and Iran from 1977-1979....

, recalls that the U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981....

 “repeatedly assured Pahlavi that the U.S. backed him fully." On November 4, 1978, Brzezinski called the Shah to tell him that the United States would "back him to the hilt." But at the same time, certain high-level officials in the State Department and the White House staff believed the revolution was unstoppable but largely went unheard until Ambassador Sullivan issued the "Thinking the Unthinkable" telegram, which formally discussed policy options if the Shah were to fail to quell the fervor. After visiting the Shah in the autumn of 1978, Secretary of the Treasury W. Michael Blumenthal
W. Michael Blumenthal
Werner Michael Blumenthal served as United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Jimmy Carter from 1977-1979.-Life and career:...

 complained of the Shah's emotional collapse, reporting, "You've got a zombie out there." Brzezinski and Energy Secretary James Schlesinger were adamant in their assurances that the Shah would receive military support.

One scholar (sociologist Charles Kurzman
Charles Kurzman
Charles Kurzman is a Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who specializes in Middle East and Islamic studies. Among his publications are:* * * * * -External links:*...

), argues that rather than being indecisive, or sympathetic to the revolution, the Carter administration was consistently supportive of the Shah and urged the Iranian military to stage a "last-resort coup d'etat" even after the regime's cause was hopeless.

Many Iranians believe the lack of intervention and the sympathetic remarks about the revolution by high-level American officials indicate the U.S. "was responsible for Khomeini's victory." Another position asserts that the Shah's overthrow was the result of a "sinister plot to topple a nationalist, progressive, and independent-minded monarch."

Summer


By summer 1978 the level of protest had been 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
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 where they were smaller). This amounted to an "almost fully mobilized `mosque network,`" of pious Iranian Muslims, but a small minority of the more than 15 million adults in Iran. Worse for the momentum of the movement, on June 17, 1978 the 40-day mourning
Arba'een
Arba'een or Chelom , is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which over 10 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq. As it is known by Persian-speaking and Urdu-speaking Muslims in Central and South Asia, Arba'een is a Shia Muslim religious observation that occurs 40 days...

 cycle of mobilization of protest – where demonstrators were killed every 40-days as they mourned the dead of earlier demonstrations – ended with a call for calm and a stay-at-home strike by moderate religious leader Shariatmadari. In an attempt to appease discontent the Shah made appeals to the moderate clergy, firing his head of SAVAK and promising free elections the next June.

But by August protests had "kick[ed] ... into high gear," and the number of demonstrators mushroomed to hundreds of thousands. Two factors were blamed.

In an attempt to dampen inflation the Shah's regime cut spending, but the cutbacks led to a sharp rise in layoffs – particularly among young, unskilled, male workers living in city slums. By summer 1978, these workers, often from traditional rural backgrounds, joined the street protests in massive numbers.

Abadan cinema fire


The other factor was the August 1978 Cinema Rex Fire in Abadan where over 400 people died. Movie theaters had been a common target of Islamist demonstrators but such was the distrust of the regime and effectiveness of its enemies' communication skills that the public believed SAVAK had set the fire in an attempt to frame the opposition. The next day 10,000 relatives and sympathizers gathered for a mass funeral and march shouting, ‘burn the Shah’, and ‘the Shah is the guilty one.’

Black Friday and its aftermath



A new prime minister, Jafar Sharif-Emami
Jafar Sharif-Emami
Jafar Sharif-Imami was an Iranian politician who was Prime Minister from 1960 to 1961 and again in 1978. He was a cabinet minister, president of the Iranian Senate, president of the Pahlavi Foundation, president of the Iran Chamber of Industries and Mines, and twice prime minister during the reign...

, was installed in late August and reversed some of the Shah's policies. Casinos were closed, the imperial calendar abolished, activity by political parties legalized – to no avail. By September, the nation was rapidly destabilizing, and major protests were becoming a regular occurrence. The Shah introduced martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

, and banned all demonstrations but on September 8 thousands of protesters gathered in Tehran. Security forces shot and killed dozens , in what became known as Black Friday
Black Friday (1978)
Black Friday is the name given to September 8, 1978 and the shooting of protestors in Zhaleh Square in Tehran, Iran...

.

The clerical leadership declared that "thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops," but in retrospect it has been said that "the main casualty" of the shooting was "any hope for compromise" between the protest movement and the Shah's regime. The troops were actually ethnic Kurds who had been fired on by snipers, and post revolutionary tally by the Martyrs Foundation of people killed as a result of demonstrations throughout the city on that day found a total of 84 dead. In the mean time however, the appearance of government brutality alienated much of the rest of the Iranian people and the Shah's allies abroad.

By late summer 1978 the movement to overthrow had become "`viable` in the minds of many Iranians," boosting support that much more. A general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 in October resulted in the paralysis of the economy, with vital industries being shut down, "sealing the Shah's fate". By autumn popular support for the revolution was so powerful that those who still opposed it became reluctant to speak out, According to one source "victory may be dated to mid-November 1978." A military government headed by General Gholam Reza Azhari replaced conciliatory prime minister Sharif Emami.


In an attempt to weaken Ayatollah Khomeini's ability to communicate with his supporters, the Shah urged Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 to deport Khomeini. The Iraqi government cooperated and on October 3, Khomeini left Iraq for Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, but was refused entry. Three days later he left for Paris and took up residence in the suburb of Neauphle-le-Château
Neauphle-le-Château
Neauphle-le-Château is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.-History:Neauphle-le-Château would gain international notoriety in 1978 when, on October 8th, Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rented and moved into a local chateau...

. Though farther from Iran, telephone connections with the home country and access to the international press were far better than in Iraq.

Muharram protests


On December 2, during the Islamic month of Muharram
Muharram
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the year in which fighting is prohibited...

, over two million people filled the streets of Tehran's Azadi Square
Azadi Square
Azadi Square is a city square in Tehran, Iran.It has an area of about 50,000 m2, plus adjacent areas, and is the largest square in Tehran and the second largest in Iran, being smaller than Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan....

 (then Shahyad Square), to demand the removal of the Shah and return of Khomeini.


A week later on December 10 and 11, a "total of 6 to 9 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."
By late 1978 the Shah was in search of a prime minister and offered the job to a series of liberal oppositionists. While "several months earlier they would have considered the appointment a dream come true," they now "considered it futile". Finally, in the last days of 1978, Dr. Shapour Bakhtiar
Shapour Bakhtiar
Shapour Bakhtiar was an Iranian political scientist, writer and the last Prime Minister of Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi...

, a long time opposition leader, accepted the post and was promptly expelled from the oppositional movement."

Shah leaves


By mid-December the Shah's position had deteriorated to the point where he "wanted only to be allowed to stay in Iran." He was turned down by the opposition. In late December, "he agreed to leave the country temporarily; still he was turned down." On January 16, 1979 the Shah and the empress left Iran. Scenes of spontaneous joy followed and "within hours almost every sign of the Pahlavi dynasty" was destroyed.

Bakhtiar dissolved SAVAK, freed political prisoners, ordered the army to allow mass demonstrations, promised free elections and invited Khomeinists and other revolutionaries into a government of "national unity". After stalling for a few days Bakhtiar allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran, asking him to create a Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

-like state in Qom
Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....

 and calling upon the opposition to help preserve the constitution.

Khomeini's return and fall of the monarchy


On February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran in a chartered Air France Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

. 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. Khomeini was now not only the undisputed leader of the revolution, 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.' Crowds were now known to chant "Islam, Islam, Khomeini, We Will Follow You," and even "Khomeini for King."

On the day of his arrival Khomeini made clear his fierce rejection of Bakhtiar's regime in a speech promising 'I shall kick their teeth in.'
Khomeini appointed his own competing interim prime minister Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan was a prominent Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He was the head of the first engineering department of Tehran University...

 on February 4, 'with the support of the nation' and commanded Iranians to obey Bazargan as a religious duty.
As Khomeini's movement gained momentum, soldiers began to defect to his side. On February 9 about 10 pm a fight broke out between loyal Immortal Guards
Iranian Imperial Guard
The Iranian Imperial Guard was both the personal guard force of the Shahs of Iran and an elite combat branch of the Imperial Iranian Army. It was created in 1942 and disbanded in 1979.-Origins:...

 and the pro-Khomeini rebel Homafaran
Homafaran
The Homafar was an officer rank in the Iranian Air Force and Iran's Army Aviation from 1968 to 1988. Majority of "Homafar" personnel were trained in the United States before the Islamic revolution of 1979...

 element of the Iranian Air Force, with Khomeini declaring jihad on loyal soldiers who did not surrender. Revolutionaries and rebel soldiers gained the upper hand and began to take over police stations and military installations, distributing arms to the public. 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." Revolutionaries took over government buildings, TV and radio stations, and palaces of Pahlavi dynasty
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

.

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

Casualties


The number of protesters and revolutionaries killed during the Revolution range between 3,000 to 60,000. Ayatollah Khomeini stated that "60,000 men, women and children were martyred by the Shah's regime," but estimates compiled by a researcher (Emad al-Din Baghi) at the Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad Shahid) come to only 2,781 killed in the 1978 and 1979 clashes between demonstrators and the Shah's army and security forces, which if true mean that Iran suffered remarkably few casualties compared to contemporary events such as the South African anti-apartheid movement.

Consolidation of power by Khomeini



From early 1979 to either 1982 or 1983 Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 was in a "revolutionary crisis mode". 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
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

, the invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

's Iraq, and the presidency of Abolhassan Banisadr
Abolhassan Banisadr
Abulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...

.

Conflicts among revolutionaries


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
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

 power-grab," that except for his core supporters, the members of the coalition thought Khomeini intended to be more a spiritual guide than a ruler – 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."

Another view is Khomeini had "overwhelming ideological, political and organizational hegemony," and non-theocratic groups never seriously challenged Khomeini's movement in popular support. Regime supporters themselves have claimed that Iranians who opposed Khomeini were "fifth column
Fifth column
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...

ists" led by foreign countries attempting to overthrow the Iranian government.

Khomeini and his loyalists in the revolutionary organizations
Organizations of the Iranian Revolution
Many organizations, parties and guerilla movements were involved in the 1978-9 revolution in Iran. Some were part of Ayatollah Khomeini's network and supported the theocracy of Islamic Republic, others did not support theocracy and were suppressed. Some were created after the fall of the Pahlavi...

 implemented Khomeini's velayat-e faqih design for an Islamic Republic led by himself as Supreme Leader
Supreme leader
A supreme leader typically refers to a figure in the highest leadership position of an entity, group, organization, or state, who exercises strong or all-powerful authority over it. In religion, the supreme leader or supreme leaders is God or Gods...

 by exploiting temporarily allies, (such as Mehdi Bazargan's Provisional Government of Iran), and eliminating from Iran's political stage both them and their adversaries one-by-one.

Organizations of the revolution


The most important bodies of the revolution were the Revolutionary Council, the Revolutionary Guards
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

, Revolutionary Tribunals
Islamic Revolutionary Court
Islamic Revolutionary Court is a special court in the Islamic Republic of Iran designed to try those suspected of smuggling, blaspheming, inticing violence or trying to overthrow the Iranian government...

, Islamic Republican Party
Islamic Republican party
The Islamic Republican Party was a political party in Iran, formed in mid-1979 to assist the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini establish theocracy in Iran...

, and Revolutionary Committees (komitehs).

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), and later the Islamic Republican Party
Islamic Republican party
The Islamic Republican Party was a political party in Iran, formed in mid-1979 to assist the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini establish theocracy in Iran...

. Inevitably, the overlapping authority of the Revolutionary Council (which had the power to pass laws) and Bazargan's government was a source of conflict, despite the fact that both had been approved by and/or put in place by Khomeini.

This conflict lasted only a few months however. The provisional government fell shortly after American Embassy officials were taken hostage
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 on November 4, 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."

The Revolutionary Guard
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

, 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, becoming "the strongest institution of the revolution."

Serving under the Pasdaran were/are the Baseej-e Mostaz'afin
Basij
The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of the Islamic Revolution's leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The force consists of young Iranians who have volunteered, often in exchange for official benefits...

, ("Oppressed Mobilization") volunteers in everything from earthquake emergency management to attacking opposition demonstrators and newspaper offices.

The Islamic Republican Party
Islamic Republican party
The Islamic Republican Party was a political party in Iran, formed in mid-1979 to assist the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini establish theocracy in Iran...

 fought to establish theocratic government by velayat-e faqih.

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

Also enforcing the will of the regime were the Hezbollahi
Hezbollah of Iran
The Hezbollah, or Party of God, is an Iranian movement formed at the time of the Iranian Revolution to assist the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his forces in consolidating power...

 (the Party of God), "strong-arm thugs" who attacked demonstrators and offices of newspapers critical of Khomeini.

Two major political groups 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
National Democratic Front (Iran)
The National Democratic Front of Iran was a liberal-left political party founded during the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and banned within a short time by the Islamic government...

 (NDF).

1979 uprisings


Following the events of the revolution, Marxist guerrillas and federalist parties revolted in some regions comprising Khuzistan, Kurdistan and Gonbad-e Qabus
Gonbad-e Qabus
Gonbad-e Qābus or Gonbad-e Kāvus ; formerly Dashte Gorgan) is a city in and the capital of Gonbad-e-Qabus County, in the province of Golestān in the northeast of Iran...

, 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.

Referendum of 12 Farvardin


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 and only the National Democratic Front, Fadayan
Organization of Iranian People's Fedaian (Majority)
The Organization of Iranian People's Fadaian or Fedayan-e Khalq , 'Organization of self-sacrificers of the people of Iran ') is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Iran...

, and several Kurdish parties opposed the vote. It was announced that 98.2% had voted in favor.

Writing of the constitution


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 unIslamic legislation, but had no guardian jurist ruler. Leftists found the draft too conservative and in need of major changes but Khomeini declared it `correct`. To approve the new constitution and prevent leftist alterations, a relatively small seventy-three-member Assembly of Experts
1st Assembly of Experts
The First Assembly of Experts in Iran was elected in the summer of 1979 to write a new constitution for the Islamic Republic...

 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."

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

In addition to the president, the new constitution included a more powerful post of guardian jurist ruler intended for Khomeini, 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 as well as laws passed by the legislature.

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

Hostage Crisis



Helping to pass the constitution, suppress moderates and otherwise radicalize the revolution was the holding of 52 American diplomats hostage for over a year. 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 Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line , also translated as Muslim Students of the Imam Khomeini Line, was an Iranian student group that occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979...

, invaded the embassy compound and seized its staff
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

. Revolutionaries were reminded of how 26 years earlier the Shah had fled abroad while the Embassy-based American CIA and British intelligence organized a coup d'état to overthrow his nationalist opponent.

The holding of hostages was very popular and continued for months even after the death of the Shah. As Khomeini explained to his future President Banisadr
Abolhassan Banisadr
Abulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...

,

With great publicity the students
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line , also translated as Muslim Students of the Imam Khomeini Line, was an Iranian student group that occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979...

 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). 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.

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

It ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords
Algiers Accords
The Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, were brokered by the Algerian government between the United States and Iran to resolve the Iran hostage crisis. The crisis arose from the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and the taking hostage of the American staff there...

 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
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 was sworn in. The hostages had been held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

Suppression of opposition


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.

In succession the National Democratic Front
National Democratic Front (Iran)
The National Democratic Front of Iran was a liberal-left political party founded during the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and banned within a short time by the Islamic government...

 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
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 guerillas came under attack in February 1980, a purge of universities was begun in March 1980, and leftist Islamist Abolhassan Banisadr
Abolhassan Banisadr
Abulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...

 was impeached in June 1981.

After the revolution human rights groups estimated the number of casualties suffered by protesters and prisoners of the new regime to be several thousand. The first to be executed were Members of the old regime – senior generals, followed by over 200 of the Shah's senior civilian officials, as punishment and to eliminate the danger of coup d’État. Brief trials lacking defense attorneys, juries, transparency or opportunity for the accused to defend themselves, were held by revolutionary judges such as Sadegh Khalkhali, the Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 judge. By January 1980 "at least 582 persons had been executed." Among those executed was Amir Abbas Hoveida
Amir Abbas Hoveida
Amir-Abbas Hoveyda, was an Iranian economist and politician who served as Prime Minister of Iran from January 27, 1965 to August 7, 1977. He was prime minister for 13 years and is the longest serving prime minister in Iran's history. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance...

, former Prime Minister of Iran.

Between January 1980 and June 1981, when Bani-Sadr was impeached, at least 900 executions took place, for everything from drug and sexual offenses to `corruption on earth,` from plotting counter-revolution and spying for Israel to membership in opposition groups. 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-regime guerillas People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

.

Newspaper closings


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. When protests were organized by the National Democratic Front
National Democratic Front (Iran)
The National Democratic Front of Iran was a liberal-left political party founded during the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and banned within a short time by the Islamic government...

 (NDF), Khomeini angrily denounced them saying, "we thought we were dealing with human beings. It is evident we are not."
Hundreds were injured by "rocks, clubs, chains and iron bars" when Hezbollahi
Hezbollah of Iran
The Hezbollah, or Party of God, is an Iranian movement formed at the time of the Iranian Revolution to assist the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his forces in consolidating power...

 attacked the protesters, and shortly after, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the NDF's leader.

Muslim People's Republican Party



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. Riots broke out in Shariatmadari's Azeri home region with members of the MPRP and Shariatmadari's followers seizing the Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 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. The party was suppressed and in 1982 Shari'atmadari was "demoted" from the rank of Grand Ayatollah and many of his clerical followers purged.

Islamist left


In January 1980 Abolhassan Banisadr
Abolhassan Banisadr
Abulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...

 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.

At the same time, erstwhile revolutionary allies of Khomeini – the Islamist modernist guerrilla group People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 (or MEK) – were being suppressed by Khomeini's revolutionary organizations. Khomeini attacked the MEK as monafeqin
Munafiq
Munāfiq is an Islamic Arabic term used to describe a religious hypocrite, who outwardly practices Islam, while inwardly concealing his disbelief , perhaps even unknowingly....

 (hypocrites) and kafer
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

 (unbelievers). Hezbollahi people attacked meeting places, bookstores, newsstands of Mujahideen and other leftists 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.

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

When leaders of the National Front
National Front (Iran)
The National Front of Iran or Jebhe Melli is a Democratic, political opposition group founded by Mohammad Mossadegh and other secular Iranian leaders of Nationalist, Liberal, and Social-Democratic political orientation who had been educated in France in the late 1940s...

 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." Leaders of the Freedom Movement of Iran
Freedom Movement of Iran
The Freedom Movement of Iran is an Iranian political organization which was founded in 1961 by Mehdi Bazargan, Mahmoud Taleghani, Yadollah Sahabi, Mostafa Chamran, Ali Shariati, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and some other political or religious figures...

 were compelled to make and publicly broadcast apologies for supporting the Front's appeal. Those attending the rally were menaced by Hezbollahi and Revolutionary Guards and intimidated into silence.

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 regime responded with thousands of arrests and hundreds of executions. Despite these and other assassinations the hoped-for mass uprising and armed struggle against the Khomeiniists was crushed.

The MEK bombings were not the only violent opposition to the Khomeinist regime. In May 1979, the Furqan Group (Guruh-i Furqan) assassinated an important lieutenant of Khomeini, Morteza Motahhari
Morteza Motahhari
Ayatollah Murtaza Motahhari was an Iranian scholar, cleric, lecturer, and politician.Motahhari is considered among the important influences on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, and was a co-founder of Hosseiniye Ershad and the Combatant Clergy Association...

.

Impact


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

International


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 and hostile – and even speculation that the revolution might change "the world balance of power more than any political event since Hitler's conquest of Europe."

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
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 – e.g. the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, IRA
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 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.

Persian Gulf and the Iran–Iraq War



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
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, and the other Persian Gulf States
Persian Gulf States
Persian Gulf States can refer to:* Countries in the Middle East bordering the Persian Gulf and sometimes known as the Gulf States: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates....

 – most of whom were monarchies and all of whom had sizable Shi'a populations. It was with one of these regimes 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 regime 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," but ultimately the war ended with no Islamic revolution in Iraq.

In September 1980, the Arab Nationalist
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 and Sunni Muslim-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 of neighboring Iraq invaded Iran
Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

 in an attempt to take advantage of revolutionary chaos and destroy the revolution in its infancy. Iran was "galvanized" 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.

Like the hostage crisis, the war served in part as an opportunity for the regime to strengthen revolutionary ardour and revolutionary groups. such as the Revolutionary Guard and committees at the expense of its remaining allies-turned-opponents, such as the MEK. 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.

Other countries


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)
Grand Mosque Seizure
The Grand Mosque Seizure on November 20, 1979, was an armed attack and takeover by Islamist dissidents of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest place in Islam...

, Egypt (1981), Syria (1982)
Hama massacre
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

, and Lebanon (1983).

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 British citizen Salman Rushdie had international impact. The Islamic revolutionary government itself is credited with helping establish Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is an Iraqi political party. Its political support comes from the country's Shi'a Muslim community. Prior to his assassination in August 2003, SCIRI was led by Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim; afterwards it was led by the ayatollah's brother, Abdul Aziz...

.

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.
Others claim the devastating Iran–Iraq War "mortally wounded ... the ideal of spreading the Islamic revolution," 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".

Domestic


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
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

 and American
Culture of the United States
The Culture of the United States is a Western culture originally influenced by European cultures. It has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore...

 influence
Americanization (foreign culture and media)
In American media, the term Americanization is used to describe the censoring and editing of a foreign TV show or movie that is bought by a U.S. station. This editing is done with the aim of making the work more appealing to American audiences, and to respond to perceived American sensitivities...

 in government. Fewer changes have occurred in terms of political freedom
Freedom (political)
Political freedom is a central philosophy in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important features of democratic societies...

, governmental honesty
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and efficiency
Good governance
Good governance is an indeterminate term used in development literature to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in order to guarantee the realization of human rights. Governance describes "the process of decision-making and the process by which...

, economic equality
Economic egalitarianism
Economic egalitarianism is a state of economic affairs in which equality of outcome has been manufactured for all the participants of a society...

 and self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy...

, or even popular religious devotion. 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."

Human development


Literacy has continued to increase under the Islamic Republic which uses Islamic principles, By 2002 illiteracy rates dropped by more than half. Maternal and infant mortality rates have also been cut significantly. Population growth was first encouraged, but discouraged after 1988. 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.

Politics and government



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 Islamic Consultative Assembly) and whether its bills can become law – they have more power than equivalent organs in the Shah's government.
Iran's Sunni minority (about 8%) has seen some unrest. While Iran's small non-Muslim minorities do not have equal rights, five of the 290 parliamentary seats are allocated to their communities.

Definitely not protected have been members of the Bahá'í Faith
Persecution of Bahá'ís
The persecution of Bahá'ís is the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, where the Bahá'í Faith originated and the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world...

, which has been declared heretical and subversive. More than 200 Bahá'ís have been executed or 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 for no particular reason.

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." Fear of SAVAK
SAVAK
SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah on the recommendation of the British Government and with the help of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency SAVAK (Persian: ساواک, short for سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور...

 has been replaced by fear of Revolutionary Guards, and other religious revolutionary enforcers. Violations of human rights by the theocratic regime is said by some to be worse than during the monarchy, and in any case extremely grave. Reports of torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, imprisonment of dissidents, and the murder of prominent critics have been made by human rights groups.
Censorship is handled by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance
Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is the ministry of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is responsible for restricting access to any media of which the Islamic Regime in Tehran does not approve....

, without whose official permission, "no books or magazines are published, no audiotapes are distributed, no movies are shown and no cultural organization is established."

Women



Women – especially those from traditional backgrounds – participated on a large scale in demonstrations leading up to the revolution. Since the revolution university enrollment and the number of women in the civil service and higher education has risen (to the alarm of some regime authorities), and several women have been elected to the Iranian parliament.

However, the ideology of the revolution opposes equal rights for women. Within months of the founding of the Islamic Republic the 1967 Family Protection Law was repealed, female government workers began to observe Islamic dress code, women were barred from becoming judges, beaches and sports were sex-segregated, the marriage age for girls was reduced to 13 and married women were barred from attending regular schools.
Women began almost immediately to protest and have won some reversals of policies in the years since. Inequality for women in inheritance and other areas of the civil code remain. Segregation of the sexes, from "schoolrooms to ski slopes to public buses", is strictly enforced. Females caught by revolutionary officials in a mixed-sex situation can be subject to virginity tests. Women may also be sentenced to fines, beatings, or even death if they are found to be engaged in pre-marital sex.

Economy


Iran's economy has not thrived since the revolution. Dependence on petroleum exports is still strong. Per capita income fluctuates with the price of oil – reportedly falling at one point to 1/4 of what it was prior to the revolution and has still not reached pre-revolution levels. Unemployment among Iran's youth has steadily risen, with economic sanctions and internal corruption to blame.

Gharbzadegi
Gharbzadegi
Gharbzadegi is a pejorative Persian term variously translated as "Westoxification," "West-struck-ness" "Westitis", "Euromania", or "Occidentosis"...

 ("westoxification") or western cultural stubbornly remains, brought by music recordings, videos, satellite dishes, fast food, and bacon products. One post-revolutionary opinion poll found 61% of students in Tehran chose "Western artists" as their role models with only 17% choosing "Iran's officials."

See also


Revolution-related topics:
  • Background and causes of the Iranian Revolution
    Background and causes of the Iranian Revolution
    The 1978-79 Iranian Islamic Revolution was a populist, nationalist and Shi'a Islamic revolution that replaced an ancient monarchy with a theocracy based on "Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists" ....

  • Civil resistance
    Civil resistance
    The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

  • History of Iran
    History of Iran
    The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

  • Ruhollah Khomeini
    Ruhollah Khomeini
    Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

  • History of the Islamic Republic of Iran
    History of the Islamic Republic of Iran
    One of the most dramatic changes in government in Iran's history was seen with the 1979 Iranian Revolution where Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown and replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini...

  • 1979 energy crisis
    1979 energy crisis
    The 1979 oil crisis in the United States occurred in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. Amid massive protests, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled his country in early 1979 and the Ayatollah Khomeini soon became the new leader of Iran. Protests severely disrupted the Iranian oil...

  • History of political Islam in Iran
  • Iran hostage crisis
    Iran hostage crisis
    The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

  • Organizations of the Iranian Revolution
    Organizations of the Iranian Revolution
    Many organizations, parties and guerilla movements were involved in the 1978-9 revolution in Iran. Some were part of Ayatollah Khomeini's network and supported the theocracy of Islamic Republic, others did not support theocracy and were suppressed. Some were created after the fall of the Pahlavi...



Related conflicts:
  • Persian Constitutional Revolution
  • 1953 Iranian coup d'état
  • White Revolution
    White Revolution
    The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah’s reform program was built especially to strengthen those classes that supported the traditional system...

  • Iran-Iraq war
    Iran-Iraq War
    The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

  • Kurdish Rebellion of 1983
    Kurdish Rebellion of 1983
    The Kurdish Rebellion of 1983 occurred during the Iran-Iraq war as Kurds of northern Iraq rebelled against Saddam Hussein, in an attempt to form their own autonomous country. The most violent stage of this rebellion was the al-Anfal campaign of the Iraqi Army against the Kurdish minority, which...

  • List of modern conflicts in the Middle East


General:
  • Human rights in Islamic Republic of Iran
    Human rights in Islamic Republic of Iran
    The state of human rights in Iran has been criticized both by Iranians and international human right activists, writers, and NGOs. The United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission have condemned prior and ongoing abuses in Iran in published critiques and several resolutions.The...

  • People's Mujahedin of Iran
    People's Mujahedin of Iran
    The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

  • Persecution of Bahá'ís
    Persecution of Bahá'ís
    The persecution of Bahá'ís is the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, where the Bahá'í Faith originated and the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world...

  • International rankings of Iran
  • Leftist guerrilla groups of Iran

Further reading

  • Islamic Revolution Portal The Iran Revolution.
  • Abrahamian, Ervand, 'Mass Protests in the Islamic Revolution, 1977–79’, in Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts (scholar)
    Sir Adam Roberts, KCMG, FBA is President of the British Academy , the UK's national academy for the humanities and social sciences...

     and Timothy Garton Ash
    Timothy Garton Ash
    Timothy Garton Ash is a British historian, author and commentator. He is currently serving as Professor of European Studies at Oxford University. Much of his work has been concerned with the late modern and contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe...

     (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
    Ryszard Kapuscinski
    Ryszard Kapuściński was a Polish journalist and writer whose dispatches in book form brought him a global reputation. Also a photographer and poet, he was born in Pińsknow in Belarusin the Kresy Wschodnie or eastern borderlands of the second Polish Republic, into poverty: he would say later that...

    . Shah of Shahs
    Shah of Shahs
    Shah of Shahs, published in 1982, is Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński's analysis of the decline and fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran....

    . Translated from Polish by William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand. New York: Vintage International, 1992.
  • Charles Kurzman
    Charles Kurzman
    Charles Kurzman is a Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who specializes in Middle East and Islamic studies. Among his publications are:* * * * * -External links:*...

    . 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
    Abbas Milani
    Abbas Malekzadeh Milani is an Iranian-American historian and author. Milani is a visiting professor of Political Science and the director of the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University. He is also a research fellow and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at Stanford University's...

    , 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
    Ali Reza Nobari
    Ali Reza Nobari is the former Governor of the central bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran . Nobari was appointed to this post by President Abolhassan Banisadr in late 1979 after the Revolutionary Council assumed executive control following the resignation of Mehdi Bazargan and The Interim...

    , 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
    Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
    Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

    , 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
    I.B. Tauris
    I. B. Tauris is an independent publishing house with offices in London and New York.-History:I.B.Tauris was founded in 1983. Its declared strategy was to fill the perceived gap between trade publishing houses and university presses—that is, to publish serious but accessible works on international...

    , 1995.
  • Sick, Gary. All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.
  • Shawcross, William
    William Shawcross
    William Hartley Hume Shawcross, CVO is a British writer and commentator.-Career:Shawcross was educated at St. Aubyns Preparatory School, Rottingdean, Eton College and University College, Oxford. He attended St. Martin's Art School to study sculpture after leaving Oxford. He worked as a journalist...

    , 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.

External links





Historical articles

Analytical articles

In pictures and videos