On September 8, 1978, the students of Iran had been holding protests at their universities for some time, but this day,
the Shah sent in troops to stop the riots and killed hundreds of students. This day became known as 'Black friday' in Iran.
It should come as no surprise that the Iranian students and people were upset at the Shah and wanted his removal.
HOWEVER, the accounts of this day vary, and on my page about Jimmy Carter abandoning the Shah, we read this account of
Terror at Home
Two major events propelled the revolution in Iran. On the afternoon of August 19, 1978, a deliberate fire gutted the
Rex Cinema in Abadan, killing 477 people, including many children with their mothers. Blocked exits prevented escape. The
police learned that the fire was caused by Ruhollah Khomeini supporters, who fled to Iraq, where the ayatollah was in exile.
But the international press blamed the fire on the Shah and his “dreaded SAVAK.” Furthermore, the mass murder
had been timed to coincide with the Shah’s planned celebration of his mother’s birthday; it could thus be reported
that the royal family danced while Iran wept. Communist-inspired rioting swept Iran.
Foreigners, including Palestinians, appeared in the crowds. Although the media depicted demonstrations as “spontaneous
uprisings,” professional revolutionaries organized them. Some Iranian students were caught up in it. Here the Shah’s
generosity backfired. As du Berrier pointed out:
In his desperate need of men capable of handling the sophisticated equipment he was bringing in, the Shah had sent
over a hundred thousand students abroad.... Those educated in France and America return indoctrinated by leftist professors
and eager to serve as links between comrades abroad and the Communist Party at home.
When the demonstrations turned violent, the government reluctantly invoked martial law. The second dark day was September
8. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Teheran were ordered to disperse by an army unit. Gunmen — many on rooftops
— fired on the soldiers. The Shah’s army fired back. The rooftop snipers then sprayed the crowd. When the tragedy
was over, 121 demonstrators and 70 soldiers and police lay dead. Autopsies revealed that most in the crowd had been killed
by ammo non-regulation for the army. Nevertheless, the Western press claimed the Shah had massacred his own people.
The Shah, extremely grieved by this incident, and wanting no further bloodshed, gave orders tightly restricting the
military. This proved a mistake. Until now, the sight of his elite troops had quieted mobs. The new restraints emboldened
revolutionaries, who brazenly insulted soldiers, knowing they could fire only as a last resort.
When the Shah left Iran, he was pretty much ignored by the rest of the world. In fact, most countries refused to have anything
to do with him. Egypt's Anwar Sadat allowed the Shah to live there for a short time. It is after the Shah left Iran, that
Once the Shah let Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeni returned from exile in France where the Shah had banished him. He was a national
hero to the Iranians.
What happened November 4, 1979, was preceded in April of 1979 also. We should have taken it more seriously, but that is 20/20
hindsight. 'Students' of Iran, stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, seizing Americans at gunpoint and holding them as prisoners,
or to be technically correct, Hostages, held for a political purpose, and that purpose was to unite Iran as a nation, and
to humiliate the United States, Iran's most powerful ally.
When the Shah was allowed into the United States for medical treatment for his cancer, the Iranian people took to the
The United States supported the Shah, and the Iranian people new it. They felt the only response they could give in reaction
to the United States not returning the Shah, was to take out their frustration towards the United States by emonstrating against
the United States Embassy.
There was more than a demonstration planned for November 4, 1979 than that, though.
This photograph is taken from a History Channel Documentary
called "444 DAYS IN IRAN".
There is a
phrase:One man's freedom fighter is another man's
This man is my terrorist. I believe he is a criminal
who needs to be brought to justice.
The Ayatollah knew all that was happening. Students who lead and mostly organized the uprising brought back information to
the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The American Embassy was a large complex, with many buildings. Here are some photos of the Embassy itself. This is the Embassy
wall, and some graffiti written on the wall. The English says, "We will make America face a severe defeat"
At left is the closed 'Center for Publication of the Espionage Den's Documents' (it sold copies of reassembled shredder output).
This is main gate #2 in Tehran. This is no longer an embassy, it is a military complex.
Among the many phrases chanted by the Iranian mobs was the phrase: DEATH TO AMERICA.
In Farsi, it sounds similar
to . . MARG-BAR AM-RI-KA. It may have been MARG-BAR AMERIKA, but when spoken fast, it sound's like the first to the casual
On November 4, 1979, Iranian "student" militants seized U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took the embassy personnel hostage.
They demanded that U.S. return deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who has been admitted to U.S. for medical treatment. Washington
refuses. This upheaval in Iran caused Iranian Premier Mendi Bazargan and his cabinet to resign. The U.N. Security
Council called on the Iranian militants to free all American hostages, While President Carter ordered all Iranians who do
not comply with student visa requirements out of the country. This caused quite a stir both at home and abroad.
One of the most humiliating photos ever taken, is this one, of Americans held as hostages illegally by Iranians in Tehran.
These Americans were not the ones who might have been connected to SAVAK, the Shah's secret Army, nor were they anyone
the Iranians had to fear, they were just embassy personnel, and Marines, who traditionally guarded American Embassies.
To be an Embassy Guard, you had to be the cream of the crop, someone with geat maturity for your age, intelligence, and
potential to advance in the ranks of the Marine Corps in a diplomatic manner.
These men, the Embassy personnel, and these Marines, were America's finest.
In the United States, we did not sit idly by while Iranian students siezed our people. We here did not know of the abuses
of the Shah, but that did not excuse away the Iranian's criminal actions.
We responded as a nation in anger. I was off the coast of Iran for these demonstrations, and it was heartwarming
to hear of these things.
We knew we would not be abandoned like our men in Vietnam were abandoned back home.
Click on the Yellow Ribbon to proceed to the next page, a more detailed account of events leading up to the Embassy Siezure.