Archive for the 'Ayatollah Khomeini' 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 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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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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Salman Rushdie Fatwa

bkyser on Feb 20th 2012

Here is a documentary about the fatwa that was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini to Salman Rushdie on February 14, 1989 because of his book The Satanic Verses, which was published in 1988. Salman Rushdie is a native of Bombay, India and grew up in a liberal Muslim family, however he grew up in Britain. He studied Islamic History at Cambridge University where he first came in contact with the satanic verses associated with the Prophet Muhammad. According to these satanic verses, Muhammad was tricked by the devil into a compromise. Muhammad agreed that the people of Mecca could continue to worship their pagan gods and goddesses since they were having a hard time grasping the concept of a religion with only one god. Muhammad told these stories to Gabriel, who dismissed them, and decided that they should not be included in the Qu’ran. Many Muslims, however, do not believe that these stories actually took place.

In The Satanic Verses, Rushdie’s main character is named Mahound, which is a derogatory termed used for the Prophet Muhammad. This name has origins from the Crusades when the Crusaders referred to Muhammad with this name. The meaning of Mahound is “false prophet.” Rushdie renames the city of Mecca to Jahilia, which comes from the Arabic word “jahiliyya” which means the “age of ignorance,” or rather pre-Islam. In this book Rushdie also write about a brother where all of the twelve women share the same names as the twelve wives of the Prophet Muhammad. There is also a character named Salman, who may be an autobiographical character on behalf of Salman Rushdie, who doubts Muhammad’s revelations.

Immediately after publishing this book, Rushdie received criticism and warnings from his friends. One commentator in the documentary who is also a friend of Rushdie’s said, “say anything you want about God, but be aware of saying anything about the Prophet Muhammad.” Protests starting occurring all over South Asia after the publication, including in Islamabad, Pakistan, where five protestors were killed outside of the American Cultural Center. In response to the international protests and outrage, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa on February 14, 1989, against Salman Rushdie calling for his death as well as for the death of the publishers of the book and anyone involved with it. In response to this, Britain provided Rushdie with his own personal bodyguard. Britain feared that the British Muslim community would heed the call of Ayatollah Khomeini. This idea came from the fact that Muslims the world over supported the fatwa and were united in their acceptance and respect of Khomeini’s decision. There were two Muslim leaders, however, in Belgium, who spoke out against the fatwa and were later found dead. Iran declared a “Day of Mourning” for the people who had died in the protests over The Satanic Verses and more than 10,000 Iranians took to the streets. The British Embassy in Iran was surrounded and trash was thrown at the building, however, nobody was hurt. Nine days after the fatwa was issued all European diplomats withdrew from Iran.

The fatwa greatly impacted Rushdie’s life. He and his family never stayed in one house for more than one night. Translators of The Satanic Verses were also being attacked throughout the world. The Japanese translator was found stabbed and the Italian translator was also found seriously wounded. However, after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 3, 1989, Rushdie believed that his life might gain some normalcy back. One of the major problems with Khomeini’s death was that the only person who had the authority to change the fatwa was dead. He had taken the fatwa with him to the grave. Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, renewed the fatwa. In order to ease the burden that was now placed on his life, Rushdie agreed to convert to Islam. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was one of many people who helped Rushdie with this matter. Over time, Iranian and British negotiations ensued and Iran eventually released a statement declaring that the Iranian Government would not take any actions against the life of Salman Rushdie. In 2007, Salman Rushdie was offered Knighthood in Britain. This decision once again led to more protests against his new status as a Knight.


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