A military government has taken control in Iran following unrest against the Shah's regime. The?
A military government has taken control in Iran following unrest against the Shah's regime. The tension spilled over into a weekend of arson and violence in the capital city of Teheran.
SYNOPSIS: Shah Reza Pahlavi stands in the centre of the most serious political crisis since he was forced into brief exile by Premier Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. Demonstrators representing both leftwing and conservative religious discontent defied the rules of martial law declared in 12 cities in September. Witnesses of the weekend's riots (4 and 5 November) said it appeared that the patience of the military authorities ran out.
Young people including many students comprise a large proportion of the demonstrators, and universities have been rallying points. The running battles at the weekend marked the climax of almost a year of mounting violence in protest against the Shah's previously autocratic rule and alleged corruption by his governments.
The riots developed into a wave of arson and destruction. Demonstrators gutted the Information Ministry building, set fire to the British Embassy and burned scores of vehicles. Banks, police stations, cinemas, shops, offices and at least one major hotel went up in flames as thousands of young demonstrators turned parts of the city into a battleground. The contents of buildings were hauled into the streets.
Many of the demonstrators follow the Shah's main religious opponent, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny, the 80 year old leader of the world's 86 million Shi'ite moslems. From his suburban Paris headquarters he says the Shah must go, and as his followers did their best to fulfil his wish the military remained largely loyal to established authority.
Many people, some estimates varying from one thousand to four thousand, have died in rioting and clashes throughout Iran in recent months. There were no confirmed reports of deaths in the weekend's violence, and most of the shooting heard in the city was reported to be aimed over the heads of rioters.
The violence was followed by the resignation of Prime Minister Jaafar Sharif-Emami, and the establishment of a military government which the Shah said would exist only until order is restored.