The attack on Faydhiah School

On the 22nd of March 1963, which was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (as), undercover government officials were looking for any excuse to attack the gatherings of scholars and religious authorities. They tried to frighten the people and create a panic stricken atmosphere. They entered the Imam's residence but they were made aware of the Imam's threats by the Imam's representative. It was this that stopped the armed forces from attacking the people at Imam Khomeini's residence.

In the afternoon of the 22nd of March 1963, the armed forces launched a brutal attack on the Faydhiah School. This attack against unarmed theology students was unique in Iranian history. This act of violence was followed with some very important historical events: Imam Khomeini's speech on Ashura; Imam Khomeini's arrest, and the events that took place on the 5th of June. In addition on January the 7th 1978 an insulting piece was written regarding Imam Khomeini and published in the Ettela'aat Newspaper. These two mistakes had dire consequences and led to the fall of the Pahlavi regime.

The unarmed students, who lived in the Faydhiah School dormitories, were unaware of the attack awaiting them. They were unarmed while the police forces were well equipped with weapons of all sorts. They shot at the students and there was blood all over the walls and panic took over. The school changed into a battlefield and in less than an hour all rooms in the school were filled with blood, turbans, dead bodies, and torn books. It is impossible to describe this devastating scene.

At this time the Imam gave a statement to the people, which showed his braveness and steadfastness:

"Do not worry; keep fear and weakness away from yourself. You are the followers of a leader who stood against hardships. He was patient. He was decisive… Our great leaders endured events like the day of Ashura and the eve of the 11th of Muharram. So what do you say today? Why are you worried? The brutal regime has showed its true colours and brutality by committing such a crime. It has showed its Changeez-like characteristic very well. By carrying out this catastrophic and bitter incident the regime has made its fall a definite matter. We have won."

According to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Imams words "gave us piece of mind and it made us calm. We felt like we were not afraid of anything at all". Imam Khomeini also said the following while addressing the Pahlavi regime:  "I have now made my heart ready for the spearheads of your armed forces but I will not stand your bullying and will not bow down to your oppression."  

The opportunity that the Imam had been waiting for presented itself after two months. Muharram was an eventful month. The Imam sent special messages all over the country and told people what was needed for his campaign.  He made sure people knew what had happened. In one of his speeches, while addressing the students. He said that he had told the Shah to stop taking such extreme measures against the people but the Shah paid no attention and so the Imam said: "I will not sit still until I make their days dark and their lives a misery."

Qom experienced eventful nights in Muharram. The Imam was invited to different ceremonies each night and the mourning for Imam Hussein was mixed with a political atmosphere. These ceremonies and political gatherings reached their peak on the day of Ashura, when Imam Khomeini gave a speech. The Faydhiah School was filled with people and crowds even stood outside the school to listen to Imam Khomeini's words. A man who had come from Tehran to Qom in the morning to inform the Imam of grave danger was faced with the following reply of the Imam: "We will teach them a lesson today."

While the crowds gathered a preacher spoke to them until Imam Khomeini arrived. When the Imam arrived he started his speech by recalling the oppression Yazid and Mo'awiya inflicted on the Prophet's family and he linked this to events of the 22nd of March. He called those who acted on that day the agents of Israel. He then addressed the Shah and said:

Imam giving a lecture to a group of clergy man in the Faydhiah School; Qom

"Agha I will give you a piece of advice. Do not carry out such actions. Listen to me. Listen to the spiritual leaders. Agha Shah! O Mr. Shah! I will give you a piece of advice. Stop committing such acts. Agha they are fooling you. I would not like to see people thank God the day you leave this country."

Imam Khomeini addressed the Shah with unique bravery and then gave him the following piece of advice: "Think for a while. Think everything over. Consider the outcome of the affairs. Take lessons from your father's fate. Agha, stop carrying out such acts! Listen to the spiritual leaders. Listen to the religious scholars. They want what is best for the nation. Agha! Why are you trying to fool people so much? Why are you spreading so many lies?  Stop it O misfortunate one. Don't you know that if one day a problem arises not one of these friends you have will help or assist you?  They are all friends of your Dollars. They have no faith or religion. They are unfaithful." "We feel pity. We pity the current circumstances in Iran. We feel sorry for this ruined country. We pity the government".

On that day, Imam Khomeini spoke directly to the Shah for the first time. The Imam challenged the Shah's greatness and power. So far the attacks had been directed to the government but now it was directed to the Shah.

Imam Khomeini's sharp and piercing sentences against the Shah made everyone tremble. All the people were shocked, and even Agha Mustafa the elder son of Imam Khomeini started to panic and wanted the Imam to finish his speech as soon as possible.

The Imam's words had such an effect on the regime that they were shocked and there was no reaction for thirty hours. The regime's officials were also dazed and unable to come up with a suitable course of action. On the other hand, Imam Khomeini's words were spread very quickly and the whole country knew what the Imam had said. As a result the regime was dealt a great blow. The Imam's brave move not only made people happy but encouraged his followers to stand up for their rights and beliefs such that the people were prepared to face any dangers in pursuit of their aim. 

The 11th of Muharram passed calmly, however on the 12th night Imam Khomeini took part in a gathering in the Hakeem district.  When he returned home his supporters made a circle around him in order to protect him. That night people in Qom went to bed as usual. They were unaware of the event, which occurred at midnight in the Yakhchal Gaazi District. The following morning Qom and some other cities witnessed bloody events.

 The arrest of Imam Khomeini

The series of measures carried out by Imam Khomeini increased daily. The regime noticed this was something quite distinguished and that the continuation of the protests would endanger the foundations of the regime. Trying to fight a great religious leader was not easy and public opinion prevented the regime from making a quick move. However the regime decided to take a great risk and arrested Imam Khomeini.

At 3:30am on the 5th of June, SAVAK agents led by Qom's police forces attacked Imam Khomeini's residence. They arrested him and sent him to Tehran Immediately. When the armed forces attacked Imam Khomeini's house, the Imam came forward and said, "I am Rouhullah Khomeini, leave the others alone. Do not bother them." Imam Khomeini said the following with regards to these events: "When they broke the door of the house I realized they have come to arrest me…. I thought they might make a mistake and take Mustafa instead, and so I said that I was Khomeini. I was ready to be arrested. They arrested me. As the street was narrow, they put me in a small car first. Then when we reached the end of the street a big car was waiting and they put me into the car and we drove away. One person sat on my right side and another on my left. One of these men cried from the beginning to the end and put his head on my hand and was leaning on my arm, while the other kept kissing my shoulders."

When they reached Tehran, the Imam was sent to Biseem barracks. Later on the same day he was sent to Qasr prison. News of the Imam's arrest reached the Yakhchaal Qazi District and in no time at all spread all over Qom and Tehran. In Qom people rushed out in the streets with tearful eyes and went towards the shrine of Hazrat Ma'soomeh. Religious leaders joined the crowds and preachers vocalized their disagreement with the Imam's arrest.

The cries of men and women shook the city and crowds started to move towards the southern door of the shrine and towards the Ahanchi Bridge. From there they went to the train station. At the train station armed forces appeared and started shooting the people. There were four jets flying very low and the sound was deafening. Within a few minutes Qom turned into a war zone. On that day, women stood with their men and protested for the freedom of Imam Khomeini and took a stand for their beliefs. By noon officers were able to disperse crowds and empty the streets. In doing so they killed many men and women, and the streets were filled with blood.

The events in Tehran were much more vast and extensive. As soon as the news of the Imam's arrest reached Tehran, crowds from the Southern and Eastern parts of Tehran filled the streets. The angry crowd shouted:  "Death or Khomeini". Near the big central Bazaar and The Shah's Mosque (today known as Imam Khomeini's mosque) armed military forces come to 'control' the crowd. Serious conflicts arose between the armed military forces and the unarmed demonstrators. Police brought tanks and artillery guns to be able to cope with the crowds. Streets such as Molavi, Siroos were like scenes of a battlefield. The conflicts carried on throughout the afternoon up until the evening. When the students from Tehran University wanted to join the demonstrators the military forces aimed their guns at them and they dispersed.

The severity of the conflicts increased to such a degree that the Shah phoned commander Ovaisi every ten minutes to get the latest news on the situation. Gradually night fell and people scattered. According to commander Fardoust, "The demonstration on the 5th of June 1963 was quite unorganized. If the demonstration had been organized beforehand and two matters were observed there is no doubt that it would have resulted in the fall of the Shah. Until midday the Shah, the English and the Americans had thought that, the demonstration was prearranged and its aim was to overthrow the regime and this put them in a state of panic." On that day the American advisors of the SAVAK gathered in Fardoust's office and gave continuous reports to the American embassy. They only left the office when they were assured that they had been successful in stamping out the protests. The protests in Varamin, Shiraz, Mashad, Kashan and Khameen also caused some disturbances.

Imam's temporary freedom

After being detained for nineteen days in Qasr prison, the Imam was moved to the Eshrat Abad barracks. They kept him as a prisoner there for two months. During this time different courses of action were taken in order to free the Imam. Various religious leaders from all parts of the country gathered and tried to come up with a plan to force the government to release Imam Khomeini. The bazaars in the city of Qom and Tehran also went on strike in protest to the arrest of Imam Khomeini.

Finally after two months of imprisonment, on August the 2nd 1963 the Imam was released and put under house arrest. After enduring eight months of house arrest the Imam was at last given permission to return to Qom. On the 4th of April 1964 Imam Khomeini entered Qom.

 Return to Qom

Imam and the Martyr Ayatollah Ghazi Tabatabaee among the cheering crowd(Qom,1964 -after the Imam's released from prison)

On the 4th of April 1964 general Mobasser, who was the chief of all the mayors of Iran's cities, sent a telegraph to Qom informing the mayor of the following: "Imam Khomeini is being sent to Qom along with commander Molavi. He will be living in his own residence. …This is a top-secret matter and nobody should know about it." Despite the fact that such precaution was taken and the Imam entered Qom late in the night, Imam Khomeini's house was packed with people. Until dawn, Howzeh students visited the Imam in turns. According to the police reports only a short while after the Imam's arrival five thousand people rushed to visit him.

People felt happy and congratulated each other. They put pictures of Imam Khomeini and lights up.  The cities of Qom, Tehran and Kashan also held celebrations. On Friday the 1st of April the Imam reemphasized his position via a speech and showed the people that imprisonment and threats could not waver his decisions.

The Etela'aat Newspaper claimed that the clergymen and religious authorities had reached an agreement with the Shah and had accepted the white revolution. Imam Khomeini replied to this accusation and said:  "If you hang Khomeini he won't reach an agreement with the Shah. You cannot bring about reform using spears…. I am not the type of clergyman who sits in a corner and holds rosary beads in his hand. I am not like the pope, who on Sundays leads mass in church and the rest of time acts like a king for himself and does not pay attention to other matters…… I must rescue this country save them from these hardships."

A few days later Imam Khomeini also said: "What we say is that these gentlemen should abide by the constitutional laws…. If you are religious, act according to the religion and If you do not accept religion, abide by the constitutional laws. I am not one of those men who issue a ruling then forget about it. I make sure a ruling I have issued is carried out……and thanks be to God I am not afraid of anything at all. By God I have not been afraid up till now. The day they arrested me, they were afraid and I kept telling them not to be frightened."

The people welcoming the Imam after being released from prison(Qom)

After the people had finished coming to see the Imam and he had replied to all congratulatory letters and messages, he resumed teaching. He used every opportunity to make people aware of the current affairs and political situation of the country.

On one occasion he made people remember the anniversary of the incidents that took place on the 5th of June by releasing a joint statement from a number of religious authorities commemorating the incident and its martyrs. In addition on the 29th of June 1964 Imam Khomeini said to a group of clergymen who had come to visit him: "These times are not for sitting at home and praying, these times are for fighting."

The approval of the Capitulation Bill

From the time he was freed and entered Qom up until November of the same year the Imam expressed his viewpoints at every opportunity. One of the most famous instances was when a bill was approved on the 13th of October 1964. According to this bill all Americans were awarded legal immunity in Iran. Thus if an American committed a crime in Iran, the Iranian courts could not put him on trial. This bill was in fact the same capitulation law which had been previously abolished in most parts of the world including Iran.

            On the 26th of October the Imam issued a statement condemning this law. On the birthday of Lady Fatima (as) a group of people visited Imam Khomeini's house. There the Imam gave a very important speech. He started his speech by saying "Surely we belong to God, and to Him we will return". He then continued and said: "I cannot express the sorrow I feel in my heart. My heart is breaking.  Since the day I heard of the latest developments in Iran, I have barely slept….. With a sorrowful heart, I count the days until my death comes (the audience weeps). Iran no longer has an Eid; they have turned our Eid into mourning…....They have sold us, they have sold our independence…….Our honour has been trampled on; the greatness of Iran has been destroyed."

What is the Capitulation Bill?

A law has to be taken to parliament, which has been copied from the Vienna Convention. We have to add a provision on the interests of all American military advisers and their families. This covers the technical and administrative officials, and servants- . In short, anyone in any way connected to them are to enjoy legal immunity with respect to any crime that they commit in Iran! If some American's servant or some American's cook, assassinates our high ranked religious authority in the middle of the bazaar, or runs over him, the Iranian police do not have the right to arrest him! Iranian courts do not have the right to judge him! The dossier is to be sent to America so officials there can make a decision regarding it.

The previous government approved this measure without telling anyone and now the present government just recently introduced a bill in the senate and settled the whole matter in a single session without breathing a word to anyone.

A few days ago, the bill was taken to the lower house of Parliament and there were discussions, although a few deputies voiced their opposition the bill was passed. They passed it without any shame, and the government shamelessly defended this scandalous measure. They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of an American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he must be prosecuted.

Even if the Shah himself were to run over a dog belonging to an American, the Meridians could prosecute him. However, if an American cook runs over the Shah, a religious authority of Iran, or the highest official, no one will have the right to object. This bill was passed because the regime wanted a loan from America and America demanded this in return! This is apparently the case. A few days after approving such a measure, they requested a $200 million loan from America. America agreed to the request. It was stipulated that the sum of $200 million would be paid to the Iranian government over a period of five years. Furthermore, $300 million is to be paid back to America over a period of ten years. Do you realize what this means? In return for this loan, America is to receive $100 million in interest! In addition to this, Iran has sold itself to obtain these dollars! The government has sold our independence, reduced us to the level of a colony, and made the Muslim nation of Iran appear worthless in the eyes of the world! They have done all this just for the sake of a $200 million dollar loan for which they have to pay back $300 million dollars! What are we to do in the face of this disaster? What are our clergymen to do? Where shall they turn to for help? To which country should they present their appeal?

Other countries imagine that it is the Iranian nation which has demeaned itself in this way. They do not know the Iranian government. The government plays the main role. It is the fault of the so-called Iranian Parliament, which have nothing to do with the Iranian people. This is a parliament elected undemocratically, what relation does such a Parliament have with the people? The Iranian nation did not elect these deputies. Many of the high-ranking 'scholars' and religious authorities ordered a boycott of the elections, and the people obeyed them and did not vote. As a result deputies chosen by the regime were seated in Parliament.

The conspiracy to restrain the influence of clergymen

According to a history textbook printed this year and now taught to our schoolchildren, one containing all kinds of lies and inaccurate statement: "It has now become clear that it is to the benefit of the nation that the influence of the religious leaders is rooted out". They have come to understand well that: If the religious leaders have influence, they will not permit this nation to be slaves of Britain one day, and America the next. If the religious leaders have influence, they will not permit Israel to take over the Iranian economy; they will prohibit Israeli goods in Iran! If the religious leaders have influence, they will not permit the government to randomly impose such a heavy loan on the Iranian nation.[1]

[1] Sahifa Imam, vol. 1, pp. 415-417  

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