Photos: 40 years since the Iranian Revolution

Forty years ago today, (Feb. 11) the Iranian government collapsed, after the Western-backed Shah’s exit from Iran and the return of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shia fundamentalist cleric, from exile in France. While the Iranian Revolution is declared to have succeeded in seizing power and establishing a Islamic theocracy on that date, it was the culmination of months of street protests, demonstrations, and political upheaval.

The effects of the revolution are still felt today. Media is heavily censored and much of public life is dictated by strict religious interpretation.

A nuclear treaty and easing of sanctions agreed to during the Obama administration boded well for the future of the US and Iran, though US president Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal has been a setback for relations between the two countries. But even as the theocratic regime holds onto power, small changes in public society (whether an easing of norms or revolutionary acts themselves) have shown that Iran may be poised for more change ahead.

Photos from 1978 and 1979 show the massive demonstrations that ushered in a revolution and the return of the Ayatollah to rule a changed Iran.

Iran Revolution Anniversary Timeline Demonstrators protest Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran, on Oct. 9, 1978. AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz Demonstrators protest Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran, on Oct. 9, 1978. Iran Revolution Anniversary Timeline A 1978 protest against the Shah in 1978. AP Photo A 1978 protest against the Shah in 1978. Iran Revolution 1978 Rioters run towards a bonfire to burn posters of the Shah’s wife, Empress Farah on Nov. 7, 1978. AP Photo/Aristotle Saris Rioters run toward a bonfire to burn posters of the Shah’s wife, Empress Farah, on Nov. 7, 1978. Iran Revolution 1978 Rioters set fires on Tehran’s main streets during anti-government demonstrations, Nov. 5, 1978. AP Photo/Aristotle Saris Rioters set fires on Tehran’s streets during anti-government demonstrations, Nov. 5, 1978. Mideast Two Revolutions A group of youths shout “Death to the Shah,” in Tehran on Nov. 28, 1978. AP Photo A group of youths shout “Death to the Shah,” in Tehran on Nov. 28, 1978. Iran Revolution 1978 Iranian youths use a pickup truck as emergency ambulance to carry a comrade, seriously wounded by automatic troop fire on Dec. 3, 1978 to a hospital in Tehran. AP Photo Iranian youths use a pickup truck as emergency ambulance to carry a comrade, seriously wounded by automatic troop fire on Dec. 3, 1978, to a hospital in Tehran. Iran Revolution 1978 An Iranian boy, leads a huge crowd of Ayatollah Khomeini supporters across Tehran in an anti-Shah demonstration estimated at over a million strong, Dec. 10, 1978. AP Photo An Iranian boy leads a huge crowd of Ayatollah Khomeini supporters across Tehran in an anti-Shah demonstration estimated at over 1 million strong, Dec. 10, 1978. Iran Revolution 1978 A mullah and other residents of Tehran’s bazaar read the latest words from their leader Ayatollah Khomeini who is exiled in Paris on Dec. 16, 1978. AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz A mullah and other residents of Tehran’s bazaar read the latest words from their leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who is exiled in Paris, on Dec. 16, 1978. Iran Revolution 1978 Anti-Shah demonstrations are shown on Dec. 10, 1978 in Tehran. AP Photo Anti-Shah demonstrations are shown on Dec. 10, 1978, in Tehran. Iran Revolution 1978 Mullahs lead anti-Shah chants during the second mass demonstration in Tehran on Dec. 11. AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz Mullahs lead anti-Shah chants during the second mass demonstration in Tehran on Dec. 11. Iran Revolution 1978 A poster of exiled Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini is carried high above marchers on Dec. 11. AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz A poster of exiled Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini is carried high above marchers on Dec. 11. Iran Revolution Anniversary Timeline An overturned truck with a Pepsi soft drink logo burns during riots in Tehran, Iran on Dec. 27, 1978. AP Photo An overturned truck with a Pepsi soft drink logo burns during riots in Tehran on Dec. 27, 1978. Mideast Two Revolutions Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Empress Farah walk on the tarmac at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran to board a plane to leave Iran on Jan. 16, 1979. AP Photo Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Empress Farah walk on the tarmac at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran to board a plane to leave Iran on Jan. 16, 1979. Iran Revolution 1979 A soldier rides on demonstrators shoulders during one of the on-spot celebrations on Jan. 16, 1979 in Tehran upon word that the Shah had left the country. AP Photo/Aristotle Saris A soldier rides on demonstrators’ shoulders during one of the on-spot celebrations on Jan. 16, 1979 in Tehran upon word that the Shah had left the country. Iran Revolution 1979 Dozens of demonstrators ride an Iranian army truck, Jan. 17, 1979 in Tehran during a demonstration after the Shah’s departure. AP Photo/Aristotle Saris Dozens of demonstrators ride an Iranian army truck, Jan. 17, 1979 in Tehran during a demonstration after the Shah’s departure. Iran Revolution 1979 A young mullah appeals to leftist students to return to Tehran University campus and join demonstrations in support of Ayatollah Khomeini on Jan. 22, 1979 in Tehran. AP Photo/Aristotle Saris A young mullah appeals to leftist students to return to Tehran University campus and join demonstrations in support of Ayatollah Khomeini on Jan. 22, 1979 in Tehran. Iran Revolution 1979 A demonstrator weeps for his friend who was killed in a riot in Tehran on Jan. 28, 1979. AP Photo/Bob Dear A demonstrator weeps for his friend who was killed in a riot in Tehran on Jan. 28, 1979. Iran Revolution 1979 Two Iranian soldier hoist up a poster of the Shah. Two Iranian soldiers hoist up a poster of the Shah. Iran Revolution 1979 Hundreds of passengers from many nations filled the departure hall of Mehrabad airport, on Jan. 25, 1979 in Tehran hoping for a flight out of Iran. AP Photo/Aristotle Saris Hundreds of passengers from many nations filled the departure hall of Mehrabad airport, on Jan. 25, 1979 in Tehran hoping for a flight out of Iran. Iran Revolution 1979 The world famous landmark of the Shayad monument (Shah memorial) in West Tehran frames the smoke from fires started by rioters following the slaying of 28 Ayatollah Khomeini followers who clashed with military forces on Jan. 30. AP Photo/Bob Dear The world famous landmark of the Shayad monument (Shah memorial) in West Tehran frames the smoke from fires started by rioters following the slaying of 28 Ayatollah Khomeini followers who clashed with military forces on Jan. 30. Ruhollah Khomeini Ruhollah Khomeini AP Photo/Remy De La Mauviniere The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sits inside the car driving him from suburban Neauple-le-Chateau, where he resided during his stay in France, to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Jan. 31, 1979, where he was to board a chartered plane for Tehran, after more than 14 years in exile. Ruhollah Khomeini Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s exiled religious leader, emerges from a plane. AP Photo Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s exiled religious leader, emerges from a plane. Ruhollah Khomeini Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has a heavy escort as he enters car to leave the airport in Tehran, Iran on Feb. 1, 1979. AP Photo Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has a heavy escort as he enters the car to leave the airport in Tehran on Feb. 1, 1979. Iran Revolution A helicopter carrying Ayatollah Khomeini lands in Behesht Zahra cemetery in Tehran, Feb. 1, 1979. AP Photo A helicopter carrying Ayatollah Khomeini lands in Behesht Zahra cemetery in Tehran, Feb. 1, 1979. Iran Revolution A crowd of thousands jam into a schoolyard in Tehran to see the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who blesses the crowd, on Feb. 4, 1979. AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz A crowd of thousands jam into a schoolyard in Tehran to see the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who blesses the crowd, on Feb. 4, 1979. Iran Revolution 1979 Demonstrators carry Khomeini pictures on Feb. 4, 1979 in Tehran in peaceful demonstration. AP Photo Demonstrators carry Khomeini pictures on Feb. 4, 1979, in Tehran in peaceful demonstration. Iran Revolution 1979 One man wearing a uniform and other people in civilian clothes man a post on Saturday, Feb. 10, 1979 on a street in South Tehran armed with weapons and Molotov cocktails. They said they were waiting for army units to enter their road blocked area. AP Photo/ Michel Lipchitz One man wearing a uniform and other people in civilian clothes station themselves at a post on Saturday, Feb. 10, 1979, on a street in South Tehran armed with weapons and Molotov cocktails. They said they were waiting for army units to enter their road blocked area. Iran Revolution 1979 An ambulance speeds past sandbag roadblocks in Tehran, Feb. 10, 1979. AP Photo/ Michel Lipchitz An ambulance speeds past sandbag roadblocks in Tehran, Feb. 10, 1979. Iran Revolution Embassy Hostages 1979 Armed rebels conduct a search of these Americans who were living in the U.S. Embassy compound, Feb. 15, 1979, in Tehran. AP Photo Armed rebels conduct a search of these Americans who were living in the U.S. Embassy compound, Feb. 15, 1979, in Tehran.



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