Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Iranian revolution: Your memories

A selection of emails sent by BBC website readers on the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution which brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power.

Mr. Khomeni repudiated all his promises and claimed he had the divine right to do so! Iran's history will judge him to be a liar and responsible for many crimes. Many people respected him and he repaid them with lies. 30 years on and we have much less freedom than under the Shah. This was not an Islamic revolution, but a mullah coup based on criminal intent. Mr. Khomeini fooled everyone and in this respect he is a good actor.
Keyvan, Tehran

The Iranian revolution was a sad case of the failure of a nation in securing itself a prosperous future. The Shah was genuinely hated for his dictatorial style, and Ayatollah Khomeini a genuine national hero promising freedom and democracy, so much so that very few people noticed the anti-democratic nature of the latter's already-published manifesto. Their hopes for a brighter future were soon dashed when the revolutionaries now in power established a system which not only broke all promises of freedom and democracy but left the nation poorer, more oppressed, and worse, hated by the world outside, rendering the whole revolution as a pointless if not disastrous event in the eyes of many.
Iradj, London, UK

I lived in Iran for 5 years during the Shah's regime and got caught up in the Revolution when Ayatollah Khomeini returned from Paris. Thousands of people were jubilant, partying in the streets. I was unable to leave, the airport was closed. It was very frightening being an English girl in her early 20s in Tehran at that time. Revolutionary Guards burst into my house, forced open my cabinet and smashed my drinks outside. I was pinned up against the wall of my own home, with a rifle at my shoulder. I was accused of being a "British pig spy". I thought I would be killed. I thanked God I could speak French. They loved the French people who had harboured Ayatollah Khomeini in exile all those years. They thought I was French. I was safe ....for now at least.
Angela Morgan, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

I lived through it. I was a primary school student. Schools were closed every now and then. There was a fair amount of chaos and martial law. I clearly remember that we had to line up in the cold winter for petrol and that there was considerable shortage of fuel due to the so-called revolutionary activities. There were frequent power cuts too. When the Shah left, everyone was happy in the street. (some of this actually sounds like a mild version of what is happening today!) People were giving sweets away and you could see them flicking their car headlights and wipers as a sign of jubilation. I guess little they new what tyranny was awaiting them!
Ali, Tehran

The Iranian Revolution was a relief from the drab and stale establishment. It was a revival. The Revolution gave so many people a second chance. What now? The Revolution has exhausted itself. The culture of image worship, the difficult explanations of prelates on mundane affairs, the lack of toleration and the new era in Europe, China, and America has exacerbated youngsters and public alike in Iran. We are ready for something new.
Akbar Javadi, Tehran - Iran

I was a teenager in London when the Iranian revolution happened & believed anyone would be better than the Shah. Khomeini told us he would have nothing to do with ruling the country and we believed we would have more liberties without the Shah; I as a secular Iranian believed Khomeini. It did not take us long to see how we were deceived. I for one, am sorry to have misjudged the Shah & prefer him to the mullahs who have ruined the country. At the time of revolution, it would have been impossible for me to imagine that one day my opinion of the Shah would change so much and most of it is attributable to what has happened to Iran now.
Nina , Washington, DC

No fun, no future, no freedom for the younger generations during both regimes. No body had people's best interest at heart, only their own. The two regimes were not that different after all.
Nilou, Toronto

I was five. I came back from kindergarten and I saw my father holding the old radio and listening to the news. He was crying! I asked why and he said: "A very bad thing has happened my daughter, a very bad thing." We didn't leave Iran after the revolution. My memories of Iran before it are so faded or come from my parents' pictures. All I know is Iranians did not and do not deserve to live like this. Iran does not deserve to be treated like this. I've lived in the US for 7 years now but my heart still beats in Iran and always will.
F, Baltimore, U.S.A.

I was in the final year of my 'A' Levels in London, when the Iranian revolution took place. Since the revolution I have visited Iran frequently, mainly Sistan and Baluchistan, the province of Iran I come from. Here, people's life has changed dramatically and for the better. The government of the Islamic Republic provides food, medical care, and housing facilities for everyone who does not earn a living. Whilst the health care is not as extensive as in the UK, it is provided for everyone. I feel proud of the change that brought dignity, security and health to the people that I grew up with. Whether or not these changes could have come with time, and without the Islamic revolution, we can only speculate. But now that we see the fruit of people's demand for change in the form of the Islamic revolution, I welcome it wholeheartedly.
Ali, London

I left Iran two years prior to the 1979 revolution and belong to the generation that participated in the revolution . I lost many friends in the revolution, during the executions by the current government and Iran/Iraq war. The revolution started with the best of ideals, freedom, democracy etc but was soon hijacked by the Islamic extremists. To me the best thing the Islamic revolution brought was political independence to Iran for the first time and the worst thing it that did was destroy the very generation that brought it to power.
George Rad, Los Angeles

I had a Persian boyfriend who was studying in the US. Unbeknown to me there was a SAVAK agent reporting every detail of these students' lives. When the Shah fell, the students got a hold of the secret records which stated that Javad and his girlfriend went to Disneyland and that I made him wear a Mickey Mouse Hat. True Story!
Joan, USA

I remember it vividly. I recall our pathetic president doing nothing while my countrymen were kidnapped and held hostage for 444 days while our embassy was stolen (and remains so). I remember watching the evening news with my father each day counting them upward while we sat and did nothing for them. I (America) still awaits an apology for the atrocities, the torture (humiliation), the parading around of the hostages in an Abu Ghraib sort of way.
Michael Nowak, Indiana, PA

I lived through the Islamic Revolution in 1979 just like I live through the Christian Revolution in the US from 2000-09. A lesson learned: religion is a terrible thing when practiced outside of the mosque or church where it belongs. It was the US's religion of money and oil before all else that led to the overthrow of Mossadeq in 1953 and installing the Shah. It was the overthrow that was the sin, not the Islamic takeover.
Mary Gravitt, Iowa City, IA

We only wanted the right to live in an Islamic society, where we could practice moderate Islam freely. After voting for democracy in 1953, the Shah continued to run the country in the interests of a minority. The revolution was bloodless and a revolution of the people. God bless Imam Khomeni
Syed Shah, Tehran,Iran

I worked in Iran in 1979 and 1980. As a young woman with a young son in school it was interesting. Of course life was different then and for the middle class Iranians the return of Ayatollah Khomeini was a memorable event: indeed the bazaari were fed up with the privileges of the Shah's family. Ugly purges took place, people: doctors, dentists (Bahai) were arrested. Names of the streets were soon changed, women barred from most offices, my working permit no longer extended. On September 21st the Iraqi airplanes bombarded Tabriz and reluctantly we foreigners had to leave.
France Betbeder, Paris

I am a 17 year old Iranian girl. Thanks to the revolution I have never been able to go to my country. My image of Iran is the images I see of my parents' black and white photographs: of fashionable women - not one with a headscarf - men in smart suits and beautiful buildings. My mother came to this country before the revolution for private schooling. She tells me of people's positive reactions when they heard she was from Iran, and the pride she used to feel because of it. The other day I told someone I was Iranian. The response: "Where is your headscarf?". Thanks to this regime I have never been able to feel such pride. Thirty years of Islamic tyranny have abolished the memory of Iran's 2500 years of beautiful history.
Negin Armand, London, United Kingdom

The 1979 revolution of Iran was the direct result of the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953. To be impartial, as BBC claims, you should be asking about both revolutions. One that was imposed by the CIA & UK intelligence. How people of Iran survived under the dictatorship of Shah's regime for 26 years, when thousands of people disappeared.
Shahid Shahid , Chicago, USA

I was eight when the Revolution started in my country. We used to live freely. I was forced to go to a boarding school in France, and didn't see my mother for six years, and my father for 18 years ! It is difficult to be an Iranian abroad. But I stay very proud of being Iranian, and mostly Persian. Because I come from a country with +5000 years of history, and those mullahs are just the second invasion of the Islamicisation of Iran. When you are in Iran, everybody is "Islamic" in public, but at home they all have their Aragh (local vodka) and party like the rest of the world.
PersaBCN, Barcelona, Spain

I clearly remember when Khomeini came from France on an Air France flight, at that point everybody thought he would wave the magic wand and everything would fall in place. How wrong we all were, theocratic rule that followed has got a solid grip on Iran. But the Shah was no angel either, with his deadly "SAVAK" everywhere students disappeared overnight for thinking of dissenting with the Shah's regime. Is Iran better off right now? Not at all! It is out of step with the times. Secretly people are outraged at how much money is sent overseas to fund the extremists.
Politicalobservor, Toronto-ON.

My father, a deeply religious man, begged my brothers not to join the revolution and street protests. Although my father did not like Shah's policies, he insisted there was nothing Islamic about Khomeini either. But my brothers did their own way. It was fun to have a gun and to protest and set fires. My brothers repented years later. This Marxist revolution (with a religious mask) took away our religion, and completely destroyed our values and our innocence. They brainwashed me for years in schools. You don't know what it means to be deceived in the name of God.

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