Shah fled Iran
January 16, 1979 remains in the mind of the Iranian people as a golden day when the then despotic ruler of Iran, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi fled the country, faced with nationwide demonstrations and opposition.
The then winter season seemed to have gown warm as the people saw themselves at last free from a 50-year spell of despotism started by the Pahlavi regime in Iran.
The feat was completed fourteen days later when Imam Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, returned home from 15 years of exile to lead the events to the eventual victory of the Islamic Revolution in the country.
Pahlavi wore crown in 1941 after British troops occupied Iran and forced his dictator father, whom they regarded as no longer fit to serve their colonial interests in Iran.
In the early 1950s, a national movement was commenced in a bid to nationalize oil industry in Iran which interests were largely monopolized by Britain. The movement was led by Ayatollah Kashani and Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq. They could convince the Parliament to nationalize Britain’s extensive oil interests in Iran. Mohammad Reza, who maintained close relations with Britain and the United States, opposed the decision. Nevertheless, he was forced by the nationwide demands in 1951 to appoint Mosaddeq premier.
In August 1953, Muhammad Reza attempted to dismiss Mosaddeq, but the premier’s popular support was so great that the shah himself was forced out of Iran. A few days later, British and U.S. intelligence agents mongered a coup against Mosaddeq, and the shah returned to take power. This time, Shah turned dictator, holding a tight grip over power. He repealed Mosaddeq’s legislation and became a close Cold War ally of the United States in the Middle East.
In 1963, ordered by his master, the dictator launched a westernization scheme, dubbed "White Revolution" in a bid to implement US- and British demanded reforms which largely countered Islamic values. That was the time when Imam Khomeini started his opposition to the regime. In 1964, the dictator exiled Imam Khomeini. Nonetheless, the dictator could not stop the streaming flow of revolution.
The dictator continued his anti-religious plans, namely by replacing the Islamic calendar of Iran with a pre-Islamic one in 1976 after an extravagant celebration of what he called the 2,500th anniversary of the pre-Islamic monarchy in Iran.
Nationwide protests increasingly grew over his anti-Islamic moves and people came to streets to shout their anger and protests. The dictator however grew more repressive, using his brutal secret police force to suppress public opposition.
Discontent also grew among the poor and middle classes who saw that his western-ordered economic reforms dubbed White Revolution had only benefited the ruling elite.
In 1978, anti-shah demonstrations broke out in Iran’s major cities.
On September 8, 1978, the shah’s security force fired on a large group of demonstrators, murdering hundreds and wounding thousands. There were suspicions that the dictator had been ordered to annihilate the revolutionary movements through a bloodbath.
But the people never quit as they found Imam Khomeini as their savior. Demonstrations continued as did the regime’s repressions.
Faced with growing nationwide protests, the dictator fled the country on January 16, 1997 in the hope that he would come back like his previous flight. The dream however was never fulfilled. Following his flight, people took to streets to celebrate.
Shah traveled to several countries but none admitted him as they were facing the fury of a nation or were opposed with his repressive ruling. The dictator was finally sheltered by his master, the United States in October 1979. The dictator died two years later in Egypt.
The people, furious over the relentless interference of the United States in the domestic affairs of Iran, stormed the country’s embassy on November 4. The move, called by Imam Khomeini as a second revolution, led to the confiscation of many documents which revealed how the dictator had taken orders from America.
The documents were then published in several volumes, called documents of the Den of Espionage.
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