In Iran, record numbers of Shi'ite Moslems attended Friday prayers (27 July) in Teheran. It?
TEHERAN, IRAN (JULY 27, 1979) (REUTERS)
GV & SV PAN Deserted streets in Teheran and closed shops. (5 SHOTS)
GV PAN Crowds thronging pavements on way to University of Teheran for prayer meeting.
SV People washing their feet before prayer start.
SV PULL BACK TO GV Poster of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and crowds awaiting start of ceremonies.
SV Ayatollah Taleghani arrives with religious leaders for start of meeting. (5 SHOTS)
GV PAN Ayatollah Taleghani, on prayer mat, bows during prayers and is followed by people around him. (3 SHOTS)
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Background: In Iran, record numbers of Shi'ite Moslems attended Friday prayers (27 July) in Teheran. It was a massive demonstration of the country's religious fervour, and an unprecedented show of support for the Ayatollah Khomeini. Next Friday (3 August), will be marked by nationwide multi-party elections to choose a council which will review a draft constitution for the country.
The streets of Teheran were deserted as Iranians left to attend the meeting at the university. Thursday (26 July) was the beginning of Ramadan -- the holy month of Islam -- and was marked by dawn to dusk fasting.
The official radio -- Voice of the Islamic Revolution -- said as many as one million people participated in prayers at Teheran University -- once a hotbed of political dissent during the ousted Shah's reign. The prayers were seen as part of a campaign by pro-Khomeini groups for Friday's (3 August) nationwide elections. The Ayatollah Khomeini asked Teheran's religious leader, the Ayatollah Taleghani to lead the prayers.
In his sermon, Ayatollah Taleghani warned of plots against the nation and prayed for unity. He said those who thought this week's elections were not free were being negative. Women in the traditional black chador or veil, attended the prayers separately.
The Ayatollah Taleghani also warned that colonialist countries and "American Imperialism" were seeking Iranian disunity. He threatened that if they continue these plots even he -- an old man -- would not hesitate to pick up a machine gun and fight for the islamic revolution.