Archive for the ‘Islamic Revolution’ Category

The Revolution in Pictures

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

 Here is a photo gallery from the BBC highlighting the key players and events surrounding the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The gallery chronologically shows Iran’s path to becoming the world’s first Islamic state, beginning with the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, the exile of the Shah, and culminating in the outbreak of violence, and the subsequent national referendum which secured the Ayatollah’s position as Iran’s political and religious leader for life.

The Death of an Ayatollah

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Here is a New York Times article released after Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in June 1989. This article discusses key events in Khomeini’s life including the Iran-Iraq War and the fatwa he issued against Salman Rushdie. It also discusses his rise to power including the dismissal of Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri and the fact that there was nobody left in Iran to challenge his authority after his return in 1979. His anti-American and anti-Western sentiments were a large part of his political career and are also included in this article. One anti-American event that is mentioned is the chanting of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” that took place in the 1987 Hajj by Iranian pilgrims.
What is interesting about Khomeini’s life is that many details are missing. For example, the exact year of his birth is unknown. However, many believe that he was born in either 1900, 1901, or 1902. Many details from his childhood are also missing. One key event from his childhood remains well-known and that is his father’s murder. He is reported to have been murdered regarding a land dispute with his landowner; however, many of Khomeini’s supporters attributed his murder to that of Reza Khan, also known as Reza Shah.
This article also discusses Khomeini’s opposition to the Shah’s, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, White Revolution. The White Revolution called for the emancipation of women as well as seizure of lands by the government from the clergy.  He criticized the Shah for this and students at Tehran University published 200,000 copies of his statements condemning the Shah for the White Revolution.  That same year, while preaching to students in Qom, Khomeini was arrested. He was kept under house arrest for a short period of time and then eventually, after criticizing a law allowing American servicemen to receive immunity from Iranian laws, he was sent into exile. His first stop on his journey in exile was Turkey, and then later he went to Najaf, Iraq, where he spent a majority of his time in exile. He later went to Paris before returning to Iran in February 1979 after the Shah left for exile. After his return he called for compulsory veiling of women as well as for as well as for the removal of non-Islamic workers in many industries. Iran also began financing terrorist groups in the Persian Gulf in countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
It was believed by many that Ayatollah Khomeini’s son would assume his role as Supreme Leader; however, on the day after his death, President Ali Khamenei was named the new Supreme Leader.

The Iranian-American Relationship from 1923 until Today

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

This New York Times article traces the evolution of the relationship between Iran and the United States from 1923 until today. This article emphasizes the nuclear program in Iran and the United States’ involvement with this program. Here is a summary of the article, beginning in 1923.

 In 1923, a man named Arthur Millspaugh went to Iran from the United States. He was an economic advisor who was sent to help Iran, a country that was seen as “hampered by administrative inefficiency.” He left Iran in 1928. Flash forward 30 years to 1953 and the United States becomes involved with the coup d’etat of Mohammad Mossadegh. This leads to the first real intervention of the United States in Iranian affairs and is often cited as the root to many of the areas of contention between the two nations today. This coup got ride of Prime Minister Mossadegh and placed the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into power. In 1957, Iran and the United States join in on a deal, titled, Iran-United States Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy as part of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. Under this plan the United States gave Iran uranium. Later, in 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Throughout the Shah’s rule, he receives praise from different American presidents, from Kennedy to Carter, who view him in a positive light for upholding Iran in an unstable neighborhood.

 After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran undergoes many changes, and naturally, so to does its nuclear program and its relationship with the United States. In February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile and immediately calls for an end to all foreign invasion in Iran. This leads to the removal of 1,350 Americans from Iran. In November of that same year, militants also known as “students” occupy the American Embassy in Tehran and hold the hostages captive for 444 days. The students held these Americans captive in demanding for the Shah to return from the United States to Iran to face trial. On July 27, 1980, the Shah passes away in Egypt.

 September 21, 1980 is the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, which begins with Iraq’s invading of Iran. A major area of Iran that experiences a large amount of conflict is the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This war occupies much of the mindset of Iran for the next eight years. The war ends on July 18, 1988 after both Iran and Iraq agree to a cease-fire (United Nations Security Council Resolution 598). An estimated 1 million people are dead as a result of the war.

 In 1987, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, is reported to have shared his research with Iran and other countries such as North Korea and Libya. Iran and Russia go on to sign a nuclear contract in 1995 calling for the development of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr. As a result of Iran’s nuclear aspirations, President Clinton issues sanctions against all companies with investments in Iran in 1996 as part of his initiative to stop the spread of terrorism. In August 2002, the Muhajeddin (M.E.K.) release pictures of a uranium enrichment plant and a heavy water plant. After accusations from the United States, Iran agrees to an inspection from the Atomic Energy Authority.

 In 2004, Iran agreed to halt its nuclear program. However, in 2006, the United Nations Security Council issued sanctions to curb the nuclear program. And in 2009, President Obama calls for international inspections in Iran. In 2010, the United States agreed to more sanctions issued against Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions are intended to hinder military purchases and financial transactions carried out by the Revolutionary Guards Corp. The bombing on January 11, 2012, that killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a supervisor at the Natanz nuclear plant, leads to more friction between the United States and Iran as the United States and Israel are blamed for this attack.

A Hijacked Revolution

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

mf photo mar6 p.jpg

If there was ever any doubt that the Iranian Revolution was intended to bring about a democratic government, the picture above will destroy that doubt. In the article that accompanies this picture, the democratic motivations of the 1979 revolution are addressed. The banner above, which reads, “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,” is one indication of this. After the success of the revolution and the exile of the Shah, in March 1979, the Iranian people participated in an election in which 99% of the population voted for an Islamic Republic; however, that December, voters voted for a new constitution. After the implementation of Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic Republic,” the notion that the revolution would lead to a democracy no longer existed. Westerners contributed this to the clerics “hijacking the revolution” and Ayatollah Khomeini’s lust for power. This article also touches on how the United States was still an enemy in the eyes of Iranians during the revolution as a result of the 1953 coup d’etat of Mohammad Mossadeq. This article, although short, presents the idea that during the 1979 Iranian Revolution Iranians demanded democracy and that after the events of the 2009 presidential election it is evident to see that many Iranians still hold these democratic dreams.

1979 Newspapers Addressing the Kurdish Issue

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I stumbled upon this website while conducting research for my Human Rights and Islam class. It is a collection of newspaper articles from Iranian newspapers released in 1979 addressing the issue of Kurdistan. In one of the articles, Ayatollah Khomeini’s orders to kill the Kurds are explicitly stated. Khomeini named Mr. Hojjat-o-Islam Kermani as his envoy to Kurdistan, and talked about the Kurds by saying, “they must be crushed.” The possibility of a ceasefire is also talked about in this specific article due to the talks that were taken place at the time in Tehran between the new government and the Kurds. The Kurds agreed to lay their weapons down if the Islamic government halted advances on Kurdish territory. Newspapers also began circulating pictures of Kurds standing in front of Islamic gunmen in Iran.

This newspaper article discusses how one of the reasons for the executions and capturing of Kurdish towns from the Islamic government was due to the fact that Ayatollah Khomeini saw them as being communist. He is quoted as saying, “We are not facing a Kurdish question, but a Communist one” in describing the events taking place in Kurdistan. Some of the reasons behind this mentality stemmed from the fact that many Kurds had Russian-made rifles and were reported to have connections with Russia.

Another article, although not specific to the Kurdish issue, discusses the decision of newly formed Islamic government to invest authority in Ayatollah Khomeini, following Article 5 of their new constitution. This article gives the Supreme Leader absolute religious authority and “uncontested support in dealing with state matters.”

The articles listed at the end are all in Farsi.

Behesht-e Zahra

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Tehran’s most famous cemetary, Behesht-e Zahra (which means Paradise of Zahra in Farsi), is known for the many martyrs that are buried there, many from the Iran-Iraq War. Here is one visitor to the cemetery’s own personal account of their visit. When visiting Behesht-e Zahra one usually encounters grave washers and people who say prayers for the dead over the grave you are visiting in order to earn money. Ayatollah Talleghani is also buried here. He is known for working with Ayatollah Khomeini in the early days of the revolution and is also known for founding the Freedom Movemnet of Iran. He is also known for his Quranic writings. He died in 1979. Located adjacent to Behesht-e Zahra is the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Here is a USA Today article that also discusses Behesht-e Zahra. This article discusses the way in which the graves are organized: there is one section for people who died under the Shah, one for people who died in activities associated with the revolution, and those that died in the 1980-1988 Iran –Iraq War. David Lynch, from USA Today, interviews a man that he meets at Behesht-e Zahra who is visiting the grave of a friend who died in the Iran-Iraq War when he as seventeen. Through his conversation, Lynch comes to some conclusions about what the Iran-Iraq War means today to the Iranian people and why they choose to keep the memory alive by visiting Behesht-e Zahra with their children.