On 11 February 1979, the Islamic movement of Iranian people reached its milestone. On such a day the struggles of Iranian Muslim people eventually came to fruition and 2500-year monarchical system and 50-year tyranny of Pahlavi Regime was eradicated and the Islamic Republic system was established in the country by Divine Providence. The Islamic movement of Iran began in 1962 with harsh opposition of Imam Khomeini and the leading clerics with State and Provincial Associations Bill, what Mohammad Reza Pahlavi called it the White Revolution of the Shah and People. This bill removed Islam from the conditions of candidates and voters, replaced swearing on Quran with swearing on Scriptures and extended the right to vote to women. Then, Mohammad Reza Shah proposed his so called reforms and enacted it in a sham referendum. Imam Khomeini and Marjas of Qum declared national mourning on Nouroz of 1963. On 22 March 1963, SAVAK mercenaries attacked the mourning ceremony held in Feiziyh School on the occasion of Imam Sadiq martyrdom and martyred and injured a group of talabehs (seminary students). Feiziyeh School tragedy made people and clerics more determined and Imam Khomeini, in his epochal speech on the occasion of Ashura, harshly censured the Shah, US and Israel. Subsequent to this significant speech the regime hirelings arrested Imam Khomeini on the eve of 5 June 1963 and transferred him to Tehran. With circulation of the news across the country a great demonstration was held to which Pahlavi resolved to react with violence. In the uprising of June 5 which was a milestone at the beginning of the Islamic movement thousands of people were martyred or injured in different cities. Imam Khomeini was released on 7 April 1964, but continued his anti-regime lectures and struggles right after release. Imam who considered the uprising for the sake of God as the mere remedy for reform in the world, on 4 October 1964 harshly reacted against enactment of Capitulation for American advisors in Iran by delivering a revealing lecture against the regime at Azam Mosque of Qum, describing it a sign pointing to Iranians becoming slaves, violation of the country’s independence and a shame for the regime.
Atrocious Pahlavi Regime which could not bear revealing lectures of the leader of the movement sought remedy in his being exiled and so sent him into exile to Turkey on 4 November 1964. On 5 October 1965, Imam Khomeini was transferred to Najaf in consort with his son Seyyed Mustafa. In February of 1950 Imam Khomeini began his course of Velayat-e Faqih which was in fact the theoretical foundations of Islamic Government. Series of debates on Velayat-e Faqih theory was published in the form of a book in Iran and Arab countries. Moreover, Imam continued his revelations on different occasions inclusive of the 2500-year celebration of Iranian monarchy. In the early 1970s, dramatic increase in oil revenues made the proud Shah to develop his plan to achieve the “Great Civilization”. On 2 March 1955, he also introduced Rastakhiz (resurrection) Party as the only legitimate party of the country, pointing more to his spirit of tyranny and despotism. In 1977 Democrats took office in the White House and the Shah was forced to implement the policy of “open political atmosphere” to appease them and their Human Rights policies.
With suspicious martyrdom of Ayatollah Mustafa Khomeini in Najaf by regime mercenaries, the Islamic Revolution entered a new phase and a wave of popular anger engulfed the country. Imam Khomeini described the event a hidden blessing of God. On 6 January 1978, Ettelaat Newspaper published a derogatory article entitled “Iran and the Red and Black Colonialism” written under the pseudonym of Ahmad Rashidi-Motlagh, an indeed under direct supervision of the Shah and court, against Imam Khomeini. Marjas, people and talabehs of Qum conducted an epochal uprising in protest to this article on January 8, which was violently suppressed by the regime. Marjas of Qum demanded people to hold “the fortieth day ceremony” for martyrs of Qum across the country, but this time it was people of Tabriz’s turn to be massacred on their uprising of 18 February 1978, marking another epic in the history of the Islamic Revolution. Nouroz of 1978 was declared national mourning and people held fortieth day ceremony for martyrs of Tabriz in different cities of the country, among them the uprising of people of Yazd was savagely suppressed, marking another shame in the dossier of Pahlavi regime. On 19 August 1978, the regime hirelings burned Rex Cinema of Abadan which led to death of many innocent people. Acceleration of revolutionary waves made Jamshid Amouzegar, who had earlier succeeded Amir Abbas Hoveida as the Prime Minister, to resign, being replaced with Jafar Sharif-Emami who appeared with slogan of “National Reconciliation Government” to deceive people. He cancelled imperial calendar, postponed casinos, dissolved Rastakhiz Party and gave more elbowroom to the press, but vigilance of people and Imam Khomeini thwarted his plots. On 4 September 1978, Eid al Fitr Prayer of Tehran was unprecedentedly performed led by Ayatollah Mofatteh in Qeitarieh district, and protesting rally of September 7 made the regime to impose curfew in the city. On Friday, September 8, people went to the streets unaware of the imposed curfew, but the regime hirelings opened fire at them, pouring the blood of many innocents in the streets. Hence, 8 August 1978 was known as Black Friday in the history of the Islamic Revolution. With launch of the Academic Year, university and school students took part more strenuously in the struggles. On October 6, Imam departed for Paris to steer the ship of movement from there. Neauphle-le-Chateau village, suburb of Paris, became the focus of the world news and people and reporters surged towards the village for visit and interview with Imam Khomeini. Strikes of the employees of Oil Company, Telecommunications, Bank Melli, Water Organization, TV and Radio … extended the scope of the struggle. On 4 November 1978, protesting university and school students were massacred in front of University of Tehran. The next day, Gholamreza Azhari was charged to form the cabinet. Demonstrations of Tasua and Ashura turned in practice into a referendum against the monarchical regime in which people chanted slogans in favor of independence, freedom and Islamic Republic. The regime was breathing its last breathes, and the Shah and his Western lords considered Shapour Bakhtiar, an experienced member of the National Front who developed social democracy slogan and called himself ‘Bird of the Storm’, as the last resort. The Shah’s another solution to keep his reign safe was to form the Council of Monarchy. He inevitably exited Iran on January 16, 1979.
Imam who called Bakhtiar government illegal and instead had established a revolutionary council (Council on Islamic Revolution) prepared to return to the country upon the Shah’s escape. Bakhtiar blockaded the airports and Imam’s return was postponed for a week, but he finally arrived the country on 11 February 1979 after 15 years of exile. Millions of people from Tehran and other parts of the country attended the airport to welcome Imam Khomeini. Upon his arrival, Imam Khomeini went to Behesht Zahra to pay homage to martyrs of the Revolution. He also delivered an epochal lecture declaring Bakhtiar administration as illegal and promising to determine a legitimate government backed by people support. Then he resided in Alavi and Refah Schools and appointed Engineer Mehdi Bazargan as the Prime Minister of the Interim Government on February 5. On February 8, the personnel of Air Force visited Imam Khomeini to pledge allegiance to Imam Khomeini. On the eve of February 10, an armed conflict occurred between some airmen and Imperial Guard forces in Tehran which with people’s intervention some garrison and police stations were captured and some weapons were taken in the hands of people. The army commanders resolved to conduct a military coup and so a curfew was declared on 4 pm. Imam asked people to disregard the coup. On February 11, people attacked government and military centers and TV and Radio and conquered them. With Bakhtiar’s escape and army’s declaration of neutrality, the Islamic Revolution gained final victory on 11 February 1979 after years of struggle, self-sacrifice and resistance for the sake of God, thanks to sage leadership of Imam Khomeini and efforts of honorable people of Iran.
Ed.’s Note: Professor Seraj Rostami Professor of Political Science and Humanities, specializing in political theory and non-Western traditions, particularly Modern Political Thought in Islam. The article is provided to The Reporter by the Embassy of Iran in Addis Ababa.
Contributed by Seraj Rostami