Timeline: The Iranian revolution and the rise of the Islamic Republic

Iranian protesters demonstrate against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran, Iran, in October 9, 1978. (AP)

Iran’s 1979 revolution overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a Western-allied secular monarch, and paved the way to the formation of an Islamic Republic headed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a Shia cleric.

Here are the major events and dates of the revolution and its aftermath:


January 9 - Thousands protest in the city of Qom. Security forces attack, killing at least five people.

February 18 - Protests are held in a number of cities to commemorate the fortieth day after the death of the Qom protesters. Some protesters are killed in Tabriz.


June 7 - The Shah replaces the head of the SAVAK secret police trying to appease protesters.

August 19 - Hundreds are killed in an arson fire at the Cinema Rex in Abadan in southern Iran. Protesters and officials exchange blame, sparking another round of violence.

September 8 - Martial law is imposed and security forces fire at protesters in Jaleh Square in Tehran, killing at least 100 people. The day becomes known as “Black Friday.”

October 3 - Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein deports influential senior opposition cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from Najaf in Iraq. Khomeini settles in the Neauphle-le-Chateau suburb of Paris.

November 6 - The Shah broadcasts the message “I heard the voice of your revolution,” after days of protests.

December 10-11 - Millions protest across Iran calling for the ousting of the Shah.

December 29 - The Shah appoints a long-time opposition leader, Shapour Bakhtiar, as prime minister.


January 4 - Bakhtiar officially becomes prime minister.

January 12 - Khomeini forms a Revolutionary Council to oversee the Shah’s exit and transition to a new government.

January 16 - The Shah and his wife, Empress Farah Pahlavi, leave Tehran and fly to Egypt.

January 22 - The Shah arrives in Morocco with his entourage. He spends three weeks in a palace in Marrakesh before going to the Bahamas.

February 1 - Khomeini returns to Iran and is greeted by millions in Tehran.


February 11 - Iran’s general staff declares the neutrality of the armed forces and orders troops back to their barracks, ensuring the Islamic Revolution succeeds. Bakhtiar flees Tehran.

February 14 - The US embassy in Tehran is attacked and overrun but the crowds eventually leave the embassy grounds.

February 16 - Iran’s revolutionary authorities start executions of leading supporters of the Shah and kill four top generals on the rooftop of a school housing Khomeini.

March 5 - Iran resumes oil exports.

March 30 - A referendum is held and approximately 99 percent of voters support the formation of an Islamic Republic.

August 3 - Iranians elect members of the Assembly of Experts for Constitution to write a new constitution for the Islamic Republic.


October 22 - The Shah arrives in the United States for medical treatment of lymphatic cancer, a disease he has battled for several years.

November 4 - Iranian students storm the US embassy in Tehran and take 52 Americans hostage, demanding the extradition of the Shah in return for their release.


December 15 - The Shah leaves the United States and travels to Panama.



January 25 - Abolhasan Bani-Sadr is elected the first president of the Islamic Republic.


March 23 - The Shah leaves Panama and goes to Egypt where he is granted asylum by President Anwar al-Sadat. He receives urgent medical treatment.

July 27 - The Shah dies in Cairo from lymphoma, aged 60. Sadat gives him a state funeral and he is buried in the al-Rifa’i Mosque in Cairo.



With wires.

Last Update: 14:55 KSA 17:55 - GMT 14:55