This Day in History (6-Nov-1979) – Ayatolla Khomeini takes over in Iran

Ruhollah Khomeini became a religious scholar and in the early 1920s rose to become an ‘ayatollah’, a term for a leading Shia scholar. In 1962, Khomeini began protesting the intentions of the Shah, then ruler of Iran who was promoting secularism. Khomeini’s 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.  Khomeini was arrested by the shah’s security service for his outspoken opposition to the pro-Western regime of the Shah. His arrest elevated him to the status of national hero. In 1964, he was exiled, living in Turkey, Iraq and then France, from where he urged his supporters to overthrow the shah. By the late 1970s, the shah had become deeply unpopular and there were riots, strikes and mass demonstrations across the country.

In January 1979, the shah’s government collapsed and he and his family fled into exile. On 1 February, Khomeini returned to Iran in triumph. There was a national referendum and Khomeini won a landslide victory. He declared an Islamic republic and was appointed Iran’s political and religious leader for life. Islamic law was introduced across the country. His denunciation of American influence led to militant Islamic students storming the US Embassy in Teheran in November 1979. Some of the American hostages were held captive for more than a year.

In September 1980, after a territorial dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway, Iraq launched a surprise invasion of Iran. The resulting war lasted eight years and between half and one-and-a-half million people died. Neither side achieved their aim of toppling the other’s regime. The war extinguished some of the zeal of the Islamic revolution in Iran and led some Iranians to question the capabilities of their leaders. In February 1989 Khomeini provoked international controversy by issuing a ‘fatwa’, ordering Muslims to kill the writer Salman Rushdie for his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’. Khomeini died the same year. Iran remains a religion-based society, and Khomeini’s life’s work and decade of rule will no doubt continue to influence the country far into the future.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/november/6?p=2

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/khomeini_ayatollah.shtml

http://www.biography.com/people/ayatollah-ruhollah-khomeini-13680544#political-and-religious-leader

This Day in History (2-Nov-1953) – Pakistan becomes Islamic republic

When India and Pakistan became independent states in 1947, each inherited a bristling minority problem. Twelve million apprehensive Hindus stayed in Pakistan; 43 million Muslims stayed in India. The Indian Parliament guaranteed its minorities equality, and Prime Minister Nehru conspicuously appointed Muslims and Christians to his Cabinet. But Pakistan, in framing its own constitution, chose the dark path which might lead to theocracy and fear. The Constituent Assembly ruled that the nation should become “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” (presumably within the British Commonwealth, like India)

Pakistan became independent of the United Kingdom in 1947, but remained a British Dominion like Canada or Australia until 1956. Under Section 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, with certain adaptations, served as the working constitution of Pakistan, but the need of a full independence and a constitution to be framed by the elected representatives of the people was all the more necessary for the free citizens of a sovereign state. Since India became a republic in 1950, the feeling had increased that Pakistan should assume the same special status that India felt she had attained. Republican sentiment had almost certainly been further strengthened by what many Pakistanis consider Britain’s failure to support her openly in the Kashmir dispute. Even so, Pakistan had no present intention of dissociating herself from the Commonwealth. A proposal to do so was quietly dropped.

There was no indication of what precisely the term ‘Islamic Republic’ would mean, but the leader of the Hindu members of the Constituent Assembly, who walked out in protest, had already labelled it as.” an attempt to make Pakistan a theocratic State,” in which Hindus (13 per cent of the population) would be placed on a separate electoral rolls, denied the highest office of State, and forced into a position of inferiority. Certainly it would not help to solve the problem of the Hindus of East Bengal, nor improve relations with India.

Pakistan was the first country to become Islamic Republic, followed by Mauritania, Iran and Afganistan over a period.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/november/2

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,819249,00.html

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/6th-november-1953/4/the-islamic-republic-of-pakistan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_republic