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Why was there a revolution in Iran in 1979?
Transcript of Why was there a revolution in Iran in 1979?
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
The Islamic revolution began 15 years earlier in 1963, when Ayatollah Khomeini was arrested and exiled after declaring the Shah a "wretched miserable man" who had "embarked on the destruction of Islam in Iran." The Shah's regime was seen as oppressive, brutal, corrupt, and extravagant.It also suffered from basic functional failures — an overly-ambitious economic program that brought economic crises, shortages and inflation.
The 'White Revolution' after 1963
Land reform- designed to modernise Iran's rural area by redisributing land amongst the peasantry. In fact, most peasants ended up with holdings only just sufficient to support their families and so were no better off than the landless labourers.
Health reforms- increased the number of doctors, nurses and hospital beds. In the mid 1970s, Iran still had one of the worst infant mortality rates and doctor-patient ratios in the Middle East.
Educational reforms- failed to make significant reductions in the high levels of adult literacy or alter the 'low proportion' of the population in higher education.
Shah authorized a relaxation of police controls in 1977. He also agreed to release a number of political prisoners, allow the Red Cross into prisons, and introduse measures to ensure a fair trail in the courts.
These reforms gave a massive boost to opposition groups who became more evident and vocal.
Resentment at autocratic and repressive government
On 2 March 1975, the Shah decided to establish a one-party state declaring the existence of a new Resurgence Party or the Rastakhiz Party.
Furthermore, in an attempt to combine the authoritarian benefits of a one-party system with the appearance of legitimate debate in a two-party system, the shah maintained the fiction of two wings within the party, though the leaders of the "progressives" and "liberals" which were in fact chosen by the Shah himself.
The opposition was lead by Ayatollah Khomeini, who lived in exile in Iraq and later in France. His message was distributed through music cassettes, which were smuggled into Iran in small numbers, and then duplicated, and spread all around the country. This was the beginning of Iranian revolution.
SAVAK, the Shah's brutal secret police force was formed under the guidance of CIA (the United States Central Intelligence Agency) in 1957 and personnel trained by Mossad (Israel's secret service), to directly control all facets of political life in Iran. It rooted out opposition to the Shah's rule.
screen govt. and university appointments
Known for their:
brutal tactics - torture, forced confessions & summary execution (such as the burning of Cinema Rex in August 1978)
Overall, the revolution in Iran was a rejection of the Shah and his policies. It was not a rejection of their way of life.
The destruction of the Pahlavian dynasty (and the SAVAK) was declared on 11th February 1979, resulting in street fighting that removed any remaining defenders of the old regime and thousands of civilians on the streets, celebrating a popular revolution.
National Revolution of Iran
, or the
Islamic Revolution of 1979
, refers to events involving the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty under
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
, who was supported by the United States, and its eventual replacement with an Islamic republic under the
Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
, the leader of the revolution, supported by various leftist and Islamic organizations and Iranian student movements.
Ayatollah Khomeini, founder
of Islamic Republic
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, last Shah of Iran
Where is Iran?
The Shah was perceived by many Iranians as beholden to — if not a puppet of — a non-Muslim Western power (the United States) whose culture was contaminating that of Iran.
His policies of westernisation and secularisation clashed with Iran's Shi'a Muslim identity.
Unpopular disregard for Islamic tradition in his 1976 change from an Islamic calendar to an Imperial calendar, marking the beginning of the reign of Cyrus the Great as the first day, instead of the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. Overnight, the year changed from 1355 to 2535.
The Shah began importing large quantities of American foodstuffs, which undercut the efforts of local farmers. He also damaged the interests of the bazaar merchants when he tried to introduce American style shopping malls.
He overthrew the PM Mohammed Mussadeq in August 1953.
Inequality in the distribution of income in the 1970s.
Poor standard of living.
Large sums spent on coronations, monuments and military expansion, paid out of oil revenues.
Shapour Bakhtiar as his new prime minister with the help of Supreme Army Councils couldn't control the situation in the country anymore.
After years of demonstrations and bloodshed,
on January 16 1979, the Shah left Iran.
The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah's reform program was built especially to strengthen those classes that supported the traditional system.
Shah Muhammed Reza continued the plans of modernisation of Iran's transport network, industry and education brought up by Reza Khan during the 1920s, and launched the 'White Revolution' after 1963.
Ordinary Iranians were able to listen to Khomeini's simple, clear articulation of their grievances and hopes for the future. He delivered fierce demonstrations of the Shah.
On January 16 1979, the Shah left Iran. Shapour Bakhtiar as his new prime minister with the help of Supreme Army Councils couldn't control the situation in the country anymore.
Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran on February 1. Ten days later Bakhtiar went into hiding, eventually to find exile in Paris. Processes against the supporters of the Shah started, and hundreds were executed.
On April 1, after a landslide victory in a national referendum in which only one choice was offered (Islamic Republic: Yes or No), Ayatollah Khomeini declared an Islamic republic with a new Constitution reflecting his ideals of Islamic government.
Ayatollah Khomeini became supreme spiritual leader (Valy-e-Faqih) of Iran. Subsequently many demonstrations were held in protest to the new rules, like extreme regulations on women's code of dress.
On November 4: Iranian Islamic Students stormed the US embassy, taking 66 people, the majority Americans, as hostages. 14 were released before the end of November.
The Chief of Savak, General Nematollah Nassiri, who was imprisoned by the Shah and executed by the people after the 1979 Revolution