Archive for the 'Islamic Revolution' Category

Mahmoud Vahidnia’s Challenging Ayatollah Khomeini via Stephen Colbert

jfurnary on Apr 25th 2012

Here is a link to see an interview via Stephen Colbert and Karim Sadjadpour describing an Iranian math superstar Mahmoud Vahidnia’s unprecedented act of challenging Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. It is significant because it took place in 2009 after the Green Revolution that challenged the government and demanded more rights from the people.

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Scenes from Ayatollah Khomeini’s Funeral

Ben S. on Apr 25th 2012

A British news report from 1989 showed scenes from Ayatollah Khomeini’s funeral. The report shows the chaotic outpouring of emotion that surrounded the Ayatollah’s death, exemplified by a two day mass vigil – the largest ever gathering of people in the capital city of Tehran. It discusses the significance of the Ayatollah’s death, his importance to Iranians as both a spiritual and political leader, and what it might mean regarding Middle-Eastern and world politics.

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The Revolution in Pictures

Ben S. on Apr 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.

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Hostages Sue for Compensation

bkyser on Apr 25th 2012

In August 2001, the American hostages held in Iran for 444 days sued Iran. The hostages won their case due to default, because Iran failed to represent itself in court. However, in 2002, a federal judge ruled that the hostages are unable to receive compensation from Iran because the agreement that they were released under does not allow for such lawsuits.

Judge Sullivan, the judge in charge of this case, criticized the American government for failing to provide compensation and aid to the hostages after their release.

The hostages and their survivors sued Iran using a law issued in 1996; that law was the Antiterrorism Act, issued by Congress. This act “removed immunity of foreign governments in cases of state-sponsored terrorism.” Under this act, the hostages should have been able to sue Iran; however, the Algiers Accord, which began under the Carter administration and followed into the Reagan administration, prevented this from happening. In this accord, America gave Iran immunity from any cases resulting from the hostage taking. Congress reacted to this accord by correcting a typographical error that would allow the citizens taken hostage by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to sue Iran. Despite this correction, both President Bush and the State Department promoted the Algiers Accord and believed that it should be upheld. Many people, including a Marine who was a guard at the American Embassy in Tehran at the time, spoke out against the inability of the hostages to sue. Suing Iran would allow the hostages to receive compensation. This compensation would be taken from Iran’s assets that are currently frozen in the United States.

Here is the link to the 2002 article with the details from this case.

MATTHEW L. WALD, “Judge Rules Iran Hostages Can’t Receive Compensation” The New York Times, April 19, 2002, (accessed April 25, 2012).

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The Death of an Ayatollah

bkyser on Apr 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.

RAYMOND H. ANDERSON, “Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 89, Relentless Founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic,” The New York Times, June 5, 1989, (accessed April 16, 2012).

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The Iranian-American Relationship from 1923 until Today

bkyser on Apr 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.

JEFFERY DelVISCIO, DIANTHA PARKER, DAVID FURST, JEFF ROTH, JON HUANG and ARTIN AFKHAMI, “Iran, the United States and a Nuclear Seesaw,” The New York Times, April 13, 2012, (accessed April 15, 2012).

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Cardboard Khomeini

bkyser on Apr 13th 2012


On February 1, 2012, on the 33rd anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return to Iran from exile, the Islamic Republic held a celebration in commemoration of this event. This event caused a frenzy throughout Iran, especially in the Internet world, because of the cardboard cutout of the Ayatollah used in the reenactment ceremony. One blogger created a blog, “Cardboard Khomeini,” as a way to poke fun at the usage of a cardboard cutout. This blog places Khomeini’s cutout in different famous settings, from the Titanic to Abbey Road. To read more, here is the New York Times article.

J. David Goodman, “Cardboard Cutouts of Khomeini Are Mocked Online,” The New York Times, February 2, 2012, (accessed April 13, 2012).

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A Hijacked Revolution

bkyser on Apr 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.

Associated Press, “Photo: Iran’s 1979 Revolution Was Democratic,” The Atlantic, March 6, 2012, (accessed April 2, 2012).

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1979 Newspapers Addressing the Kurdish Issue

bkyser on Mar 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.

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, “1979 Articles about Iranian Kurdistan,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, (accessed March 18, 2012).

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Iran Military

tobin on Feb 21st 2012

Iranian missile fired during military exercise. 2 Jan 2012


Here are two articles posted by the BBC about the Iranian Military. The first article entitled Iran Says it Could Attack First, goes into some detail about how if Iran does feel other countries are threatening them or if Iran feels its national interests are endangered they are able and willing to attack.

The second article entitled Iran to hold military drills ‘to protect nuclear sites’ goes into detail about how Iran is willing to protect and defend their right to hold nuclear weapons.

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