"Iran and Red and Black Colonization" (Persian : ایران و استعمار سرخ و سیاه) was the title of an article written by Ahmad Rashidi Motlagh published in Ettela'at newspaper on 7 January 1978. The article was used to attack Ruhollah Khomeini, described as an Indian Sayyed, who later founded the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The hostilities between Iran and Iraq ended with a treaty proposed in 1975. Iranians were allowed to travel to Iraq in 1976. As result many tapes and writings of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who was in exile in Iraq, were brought into Iran. Disapproval of the Shah was increasing in Iranian mosques. People were demanding that the Constitution of 1906/07 be fully restored. Articles in the constitution included: the right to free elections, a government responsible to the elected legislative body or the Majles , a Shah with limited authority, and a committee of Mujtahids to veto bills not deemed to be in accord with Muslim law.
In October 1977, the mysterious death of Khomeini's son Mostafa caused the people's dissatisfaction to grow, in part because journalists Nikki Keddie and Yann Richard attributed his death to SAVAK, Iran's secret police.In January 1978, in an attempt to reduce religious opposition inciting people against the Shah, the Iranian newspaper Ettela'at published an article entitled "Iran and Red and Black Colonization" which attacked Ruhollah Khomeini. The article was published one week after a speech by President Jimmy Carter in which he referred to Iran as an "island of stability" in one of the more troubled areas of the world.
On 4 January 1978, the article "Iran and Red and Black Colonization" was sealed in the Imperial Court and sent from Prime Minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda, who is thought to have written it,to Information Minister Daryush Homayun for publication in one of Iran's newspapers. The regime saw the article as a way to attack its religious opponents. It was published on 7 January 1978 in Ettela'at , printed in red ink on page 7 in the section known as "Comments and Ideas". The article contained offensive content about Ayatollah Khomeini, who was described as a foreign agent. Khomeini was attacked as an adventurer who was faithless and devoted to colonialism. The article described him as an Indian Sayyed who had lived for some time in India, and had contact with British colonial centres. The article was written at the Imperial Court based on documents that had been collected by SAVAK. Because the original text of the article was relatively tame, the Shah had allegedly ordered it to be rewritten and its tone had then become more insulting.
Ahmad Rashidi Motlagh was the fictitious name of the author of "Iran and Red and Black Colonization".According to Bahman Baktiari, the main authors of the article were Daryush Homayun and Farhad Nikukhah, a low-ranking ministry official. The day that the article was published fell on the anniversary of the unveiling when Reza Shah had declared the law banning women from wearing the hijab.
One day after the publication of the article, it was met with huge protests in Qom.Classes at Qom's seminary were cancelled. People went to the homes of Marja' in Tehran and Qom to show their support. In the evening, at the Azam mosque of Qom, they chanted slogans such as "Long live Khomeini" and "Death to the Pahlavi regime".
On 9 January, the protests continued and grew larger. The Bazaar was closed. In the afternoon, police began firing into the crowd killing and injuring many people. The day after the shootings, people gathered to protest and to commemorate the deaths in many Iranian cities including: Tabriz, Yazd, Isfahan, Shiraz, Jahrom, and Ahwaz.
The article's publication was generally recognized as the beginning of the Iranian Revolutionand four hundred days later the Pahlavi dynasty was overthrown. This article had the effect of placing Khomeini at the center of the revolutionary movement.