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Ayatollah Khomeini became the supreme religious leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, following many years of resistance to Shah Pahlavi.
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He began to cultivate a group of dedicated pupils who became his staunchest supporters during his days as an Islamic revolutionary. On March 31, 1961, Ayatollah Boroujerdi died and Khomeini was in a position to take up the mantle left by the late religious leader. After publishing his writings on Islamic science and doctrines, many Shi'ite Iranians began to see Khomeini as Marja-e Taqlid (a person to be imitated).
Khomeini began protesting the intentions of the Shah in earnest. His first act of defiance was to organize the ulama (religious leaders) against a proposed law of the Shah's that would effectively end the requirement for elected officials to be sworn in on the Qu'ran. This action was just the beginning in a long string of events that would change Iranian politics forever.
In June 1963, Khomeini made a speech suggesting that if the Shah did not change the political direction of Iran, the populace would be happy to see him leave the country. As a result, Khomeini was arrested and held in prison. During his incarceration, people took to the streets with cries for his release, and were met by the government with military force. Even so, it was nearly a week before the unrest was resolved. Khomeini was held in prison until April 1964, when he was allowed to return to Qom.
The Shah continued to cultivate close ties with the United States, and to be what Khomeini considered "soft" on Israel. This prompted Khomeini to pronounce his belief that Jews would take over Iran and that the U.S. considered all Iranians to be little more than slaves to America's Western ideals. After delivering another inflammatory speech in the fall of 1964, Khomeini was arrested and deported to Turkey. Prevented by Turkish law from wearing the traditional clothes of a Shi'ite cleric and scholar, Khomeini took up residence in Najaf, Iraq in September 1965. He remained there for 13 years.
During his years in exile, Khomeini developed a theory of what a state founded on Islamic principles and led by the clergy would look like, called Velayat-e faqeeh. He taught his theory at a local Islamic school, mostly to other Iranians. He also began making videotapes of his sermons, which were smuggled into and sold in Iranian bazaars. Through these methods, Khomeini became the accepted leader of the Iranian opposition to the government of the Shah. The opposition was, indeed, picking up steam.
In 1975, crowds gathered for three days at a religious school in Qom and could only be moved by military force. In response, Khomeini released a jubilant statement in support of the protestors. He declared that "freedom and liberation from the bonds of imperialism" was imminent.
More protests occurred in 1978 in Khomeini's defense, and were again put down violently by Iranian government forces. In the wake of these protests, the Shah felt that Khomeini's exile in Iraq was too nearby for comfort. Soon thereafter, Khomeini was confronted by Iraqi soldiers and given a choice: either stay in Iraq and abandon all political activity, or leave the country.
profile name: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini profile occupation:
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