Black Friday (1978)

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Black Friday
Part of Iranian Revolution
Location Tehran, Iran
Date 8 September 1978 (GMT+2)
Deaths 88
Perpetrators Iranian army

Black Friday (Persian: جمعه سیاه / Jome-ye Siaah) is the name given to 8 September 1978 (17 Shahrivar 1357 AP) and the shootings in Zhaleh (or Jaleh) Square in Tehran, Iran. The deaths and the reaction to them has been described as a pivotal event in the Iranian Revolution when any "hope for compromise" between the protest movement and the Shah's regime was extinguished.[1]

Background and massacre[edit]

As protest against the Shah's rule continued during the spring and summer of 1978, the Iranian government declared martial law. On 8 September, thousands gathered in Tehran's Jaleh Square for a religious demonstration, despite the fact that the government had declared martial law the day before.[citation needed] The soldiers ordered the crowd to disperse, but the order was ignored. Initially, it was thought that either because of this reason, or because of the fact that the protesters kept pushing towards the military, the military opened fire, killing and wounding several people.

However, recent reports have shown that the reporting of media and opposition was incorrect. According to new evidence and reports, the protesters were shot by professional agitators, some trained in Palestinian and Libyan camps. During these shootings Iranian soldiers and policemen were also shot and killed. Some of the foreign soldiers wore Iranian military clothes and opened fire both on protesters and on the military in order to create chaos, cause hatred for the Shah and lastly to create an illusion for the military that they were being shot from inside of the demonstration, forcing the Iranian military to respond with rifle fire. [2][3][4][5][6][7]


Black Friday is thought to have marked the point of no return for the revolution, and led to the abolition of Iran's monarchy less than a year later. It is also believed that Black Friday played a crucial role in further radicalizing the protest movement, uniting the opposition to the shah and mobilized the masses. Initially opposition and western journalists incorrectly claimed that the Iranian army massacred thousands of protesters. [8][9][10] The clerical leadership announced that "thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops."[11]

Demonstration of Black Friday, the sentence on placard: "We want an Islamic government, led by Imam Khomeini"

The events triggered protests continued for another four months. The day after Black Friday, 9 September 1978, Hoveyda resigned as minister of court, although unrelated to the situation. A general strike in October shut down the petroleum industry that was essential to the administration's survival, "sealing the Shah's fate".[12] Continuation of protests ultimately led to Shah leaving from Iran in January 1979, clearing the way for the Iranian Revolution, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Aftermath[edit]

Initially, western media and opposition incorrectly reported "15,000 dead and wounded", despite reports by the Iranian government officials that 86 people died in Tehran during the whole day. [20] Michael Foucault, an often sourced French journalist, first reported that 2000 - 3000 people died in the Jaleh Square and later he raised it to 4000 people dead. [8] BBC:s correspondent in Iran, Andrew Whitley, reported that hundreds died. [21]

According to Emad al-Din Baghi, a former researcher at the Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad Shahid, part of the current Iranian government, which compensates families of victims) hired "to make sense of the data" on those killed on Black Friday, 64 were killed in Jaleh Square on Black Friday, among them two females – one woman and a young girl. On the same day in other parts of the capital a total of 24 people died in clashes with martial law forces, among them one female, making the total casualties on the same day to 88 deaths.[8] Another source puts the Martyrs Foundation tabulation of dead at 84 during that day.[22] During the clash, in addition to the approximately 64 deaths, 70 Iranian soldiers and police officers also lost their lives. [23]

The square's name was later changed to the Square of Martyrs (Maidan-e Shohada) by the Islamic republic. [10]

"Black Friday" in art[edit]

Persian[edit]

In 1978 shortly after the massacre, the Persian musician Hossein Alizadeh set Siavash Kasraie's poem about the event to music. Mohammad Reza Shajarian sang the piece "Jaaleh Khun Shod" (Jaaleh [Square] became bloody). The documentary maker Shahed Azad Soltani in 1980 made a documentary called Rooz-e Khodaa (Persian for Day of God).

English[edit]

Nastaran Akhavan, one of the few survivors, wrote the book Spared about the event. The book explains how the author was forced into a massive wave of thousands of angry protesters, who were later massacred by the Shah’s military [24]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 160–1
  2. ^ Afkhami, R. Gholam (2009) The life and times of the Shah University of California Press, p. 463-466, ISBN 0-520-25328-0
  3. ^ Nahavandi, Houshang (2003) Carnets Secrets: Chute et mort du Shah Editions Osmondes, p. 139, ISBN 2-915-03602-0
  4. ^ Davani, Ali (?) Nehzat-e ruhaniyun-e-Iran ?, Volume 10, ISBN 0-000-00000-0
  5. ^ Bonyad-e Farhang-e Emam Reza (1998) Bonyad-e- Farhang-e Emam Reza ?, Volume 7, pp. 231-32, ISBN 0-000-00000-0
  6. ^ Ganji, Manoucher (2003) Defying the Iranian revolution: from a minister to the Shah to a leader of resistance Praeger, page 16, ISBN 0-275-97187-2
  7. ^ Taheri, The Spirit of Allah (1985), p. 223.
  8. ^ a b c "A Question of Numbers". 
  9. ^ "Islamic Revolution of Iran". 
  10. ^ a b "Black Friday". 
  11. ^ Taheri, The Spirit of Allah (1985), p. 223.
  12. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 189.
  13. ^ The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution, Abbas Milani, pp. 292-293
  14. ^ Seven Events That Made America America, Larry Schweikart, p.
  15. ^ The Iranian Revolution of 1978/1979 and How Western Newspapers Reported It, Edgar Klüsener, p. 12
  16. ^ Cultural History After Foucault, John Neubauer, p. 64
  17. ^ Islam in the World Today: A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society By Werner Ende, Udo Steinbach, p. 264
  18. ^ The A to Z of Iran, John H. Lorentz, p. 63
  19. ^ Islam and Politics, John L. Esposito, p. 212
  20. ^ Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza Shah (2003) Answer to History Irwin Pub, page 160, ISBN 978-0772012968
  21. ^ "Black Friday Massacre - Iran (SEp. 8 1978)".  Retrieved 7 June 2013
  22. ^ E. Baqi, `Figures for the Dead in the Revolution`, Emruz, 30 July 2003, quoted in Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 160–1
  23. ^ Afkhami, R. Gholam (2009) The life and times of the Shah University of California Press, page 465, ISBN 0-520-25328-0
  24. ^ Book's page in Amazon