Ayatollah Khomeini Biography

Ayatollah Khomeini

This is the story of Ayatollah Khomeini's rise from dutiful student in Iran to one of the 20th century's most ruthless leaders. As a 70-year-old grandfather, Khomeini pulled off one of the most daring revolutions in history and served a crushing blow to America.

After his father was killed by bandits, the young Khomeini was brought up by his mother and aunt. However, when only fifteen he suffered further loss as his aunt died and shortly afterwards his mother also passed away.

Under the guidance of his elder brother he learnt Islamic science, literature, and philosophy, eventually becoming a leading authority on theological law.

In 1962 he became politically active and openly protested against the torturing and imprisonment of the people by the Shah of Iran, whose regime was seen to be safeguarding the interests of the US.

On 3 June 1963, Khomeini made a historical speech against the dependence of the Shah’s regime on foreign powers, and its support of Israel. He was immediately arrested, but his imprisonment inspired major public demonstrations of support, that were eventually crushed by government troops in tanks.

In November 1964 he was arrested for a second time, and sent into exile, first to Turkey and then to Iraq, where for fifteen years Khomeini wrote and lectured against the regime in his homeland.

After the Iranian government had been overthrown by an Islamic revolution in 1979, and the Shah sent into exile, Khomeini returned to Iran, where millions of people were waiting enthusiastically to greet him.

In response to the exiled Shah's admission to the United States in September 1979, a large crowd seized the US embassy in Tehran, taking 52 American citizens hostage. After 444 days of economic sanctions, diplomatic negotiations and a failed military rescue, the release of the remaining hostages was finally secured.

In February 1989 Khomeini broadcast a fatwa on Tehran Radio, issuing a death threat against British author Salman Rushdie and his publishers, over the book Satanic Verses.

Later that year on 3 June 1989, Khomeini died.

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