Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has proclaimed Iran an Islamic Republic, even though official results of the two day referendum will not be known for several days.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has proclaimed Iran an Islamic Republic, even though official results of the two day referendum will not be known for several days. The Ayatollah says the people voted unanimously for an Islamic state. However it is estimated that more than one third of the country's voters boycotted the election. Among them were Iran's three million Kurds, who have been demanding autonomy for a region on Iran's western border with Iraq.
SYNOPSIS: Since Khomeini's revolutionary government seized power from the Shah, armed Kurdish rebels have clashed several times with government soldiers. The most serious fighting between Kurdish gunmen and Khomeini's revolutionary guard in mid-March, prompted the government to offer semi-autonomy to the area.
With the promise of autonomy, the heavily armed guerrillas allowed citizens to move more freely through the streets of the provincial capital of Sanandaj. Women and children, safe for the time being from flying bullets, Joined the men while they cleaned and loaded their automatic weapons.
The Kurds are Sunni Moslems and are in the minority to Khomeini's Shi'ite Moslem majority. Sheikh Ezzedin Hasseini, one of the Kurds' religious and political leaders urged a boycott of the referendum for an Islamic Republic because the Kurds did not know whether their demands for self-rule would be met in the new constitution. The terms of the semi-autonomy promised them just a few days before the election are still not clear.