The Iran Revolution at 40: From Theocracy to ‘Normality’Breaking News
tags: foreign policy, Iran, anniversaries, 1979, Iranian Revolution
In February of 1979, Tehran was in chaos. A cancer-stricken Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Western-backed autocrat, had gone into exile in mid-January, leaving behind a rickety regency council. On Feb. 1, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the godfather of the revolution, returned from exile in Paris. And in the Iranian version of “Ten Days That Shook the World,” street demonstrations raged until the government collapsed on Feb. 11.
Ecstatic Iranians danced in the streets, playing cat and mouse with soldiers as lingering pro-government sharpshooters fired from the rooftops. Families joined in mass protests, as vigilantes ransacked liquor stores and people kissed the foreheads of turbaned clerics leading the revolution.
Forty years ago, Iranians swelled with pride, hope and the expectation of a better future. Dreams of freedom and independence from the United States fired up the revolutionaries. But great, rapid change can leave deep and lasting wounds. There were lashings, hangings, amputations and mass imprisonment. Thousands of people died and hundreds of thousands left the country, some fleeing for their lives, never to return.