Black Friday (1978)

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Black Friday
Part of Iranian Revolution
Location Tehran, Iran
Date8 September 1978 (GMT+3.30)
Deaths88 [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
Non-fatal injuries
205 [5]
Perpetrators Imperial Army of Iran

Black Friday (Persian: جمعه سیاه Jom'e-ye Siyāh) is the name given to 8 September 1978 (17 Shahrivar 1357 in the Iranian calendar) [7] because of the shootings in Jaleh Square (Persian: میدان ژاله Meydān-e Jāleh) in Tehran, Iran. [8] [9] Between 84–88 [5] people were killed in the incident and 205 were injured. The deaths were described as the pivotal event in the Iranian Revolution that ended any "hope for compromise" between the protest movement and regime of the Mohammad Reza Shah. [10] The incident is described by historian Ervand Abrahamian as "a sea of blood between the shah and the people." [2]

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

The Solar Hijri calendar, also called the Solar Hejri calendar or Shamsi Hijri calendar, and abbreviated as SH, is the official calendar of Iran and Afghanistan. It begins on the March equinox (Nowruz) as determined by astronomical calculation for the Iran Standard Time meridian and has years of 365 or 366 days.

Tehran City in Iran

Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.694 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the most populous city in Iran and Western Asia, and has the second-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. It is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.



Sharif-Emami named his government as "Government of National reconciliation" Jafar Sharif-Emami 1978.jpg
Sharif-Emami named his government as "Government of National reconciliation"

As protests against the Shah's rule continued during the spring and the summer of 1978, the Iranian government declared martial law. On 8 September, thousands gathered in Tehran's Jaleh Square for a religious demonstration, unaware that the government had declared martial law a day earlier. [11]


The soldiers ordered the crowd to disperse, but the order was ignored. Initially, it was thought that because of that reason the protesters' continuous pushing towards the military that made it open fire, killing and wounding dozens of people.

Recent theories have suggested greater ambiguity in the situation, especially because of the presence of Palestinian guerrillas in Iran, who some[ who? ] believe were agitators. [12] [6]


Demonstration of Black Friday, the sentence on placard: "We want an Islamic government, led by Imam Khomeini". Islamic Government (17 Shahrivar).jpg
Demonstration of Black Friday, the sentence on placard: "We want an Islamic government, led by Imam Khomeini".

Black Friday is thought to have marked the point of no return for the revolution, and it 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 claimed that the Iranian army had massacred thousands of protesters. [1] [13] [14] The clerical leadership announced that "thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops". [15]

The events triggered protests that continued for another four months. The day after Black Friday, Amir-Abbas Hoveyda resigned as minister of court for unrelated reasons.

Amir-Abbas Hoveyda Iranian politician

Amir-Abbas Hoveyda was an Iranian economist and politician who served as Prime Minister of Iran from 27 January 1965 to 7 August 1977. He was prime minister for 13 years and is the longer serving prime minister in Iran's history. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Mansur's cabinet. After the Iranian Revolution, he was tried by the newly established Revolutionary Court for "waging war against God" and "spreading corruption on earth", and executed.

A general strike in October shut down the petroleum industry that was essential to the administration's survival, "sealing the Shah's fate". [16] The continuation of protests ultimately led to Shah leaving Iran in January 1979, clearing the way for the Iranian Revolution, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23]

General strike strike action in which a substantial proportion of the total labour force in a city, region, or country participates

A general strike is a strike action in which a substantial proportion of the total labour force in a city, region, or country participates. General strikes are characterised by the participation of workers in a multitude of workplaces, and tend to involve entire communities. General strikes first occurred in the mid-19th century, and have characterised many historically important strikes.

Petroleum naturally occurring flammable liquid

Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

Iranian Revolution Revolution in Iran to overthrow the Shah replace him with Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian Revolution was a series of events that involved the overthrow of the monarch of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and the replacement of his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a leader of one of the factions in the revolt. The movement against the United States-backed monarchy was supported by various leftist and Islamist organizations and student movements.


Initially, western media and opposition reported "15,000 dead and wounded" despite reports by the Iranian government officials that 86 people had died in Tehran in the whole day. [24] Michael Foucault, an influential French journalist and social theorist, first reported that 2000 to 3000 people had died in the Jaleh Square, and he later raised that number to 4000. [1] The BBC's correspondent in Iran, Andrew Whitley, reported that hundreds had died. [25]

According to Emadeddin 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, with two females: one woman and a young girl. On the same day in other parts of the capital, 24 people died in clashes with martial law forces, with one female, making the total casualties on the same day to 88 deaths. [1] Another source puts the Martyrs Foundation tabulation of dead at 84 during that day. [26]

The square's name was later changed to the Square of Martyrs (Maidan-e Shohada) by the Islamic republic. [14]

In art

In Persian

A 1985 stamp 1985 "17 Shahrivar" stamp of Iran.jpg
A 1985 stamp

In 1978 shortly after the massacre, the Iranian musician Hossein Alizadeh set Siavash Kasraie's poem about the event to music. Mohammad Reza Shajarian sang the piece "Jāleh Khun Shod" (Jaleh [Square] became bloody). [27]

In English

Nastaran Akhavan, one of the 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. [28] The 2016 adventure video game 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is based on the event. The game is directed by Navid Khonsari, who was a child at the time of the revolution and admitted he did not have a realistic view of what was taking place. Khonsari described creating the game as "[wanting] people to feel the passion and the elation of being in the revolution – of feeling that you could possibly make a change." [29]

See also

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