Black Friday (1978)

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Black Friday
Part of Iranian Revolution
LocationTehran, Iran
Date8 September 1978 (GMT+3.30)
Deaths64 protesters[1]
or 94 (64 protesters, 30 government security forces)[2]
or at least 100 (88[3][4][5][6][7][8])
PerpetratorsImperial Army of Iran

Black Friday (Persian: جمعه سیاه, romanizedJom'e-ye Siyāh) is the name given to an incident occurring on 8 September 1978 (17 Shahrivar 1357 in the Iranian calendar) in Iran,[9] in which 64,[1] or at least 100[10][11] people were shot dead and 205 injured by the Pahlavi military in Jaleh Square (Persian: میدان ژاله, romanizedMeydān-e Jāleh) in Tehran.[12][13] According to the military historian Spencer C. Tucker, 94 were killed on Black Friday, consisting of 64 protesters and 30 government security forces.[2] The deaths were described as the pivotal event in the Iranian Revolution that ended any "hope for compromise" between the protest movement and the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[14]


Sharif-Emami named his government as "Government of National reconciliation"

As protests against the Shah's rule continued during the first half 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.[15]


A crowd of the protesters had gathered in Jaleh square, Tehran, who were surrounded by the army. The gathering was shot at indiscriminately by the army leading to death of numerous people.[16]


In demonstration of Black Friday, the sentence on the 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. The incident is described by historian Ervand Abrahamian as "a sea of blood between the shah and the people."[4] Initially, opposition and western journalists claimed that the Iranian army had massacred thousands of protesters.[3][17][18] The clerical leadership announced that "thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops".[19] According to the historian Abbas Amanat:[20]

The clerical activists, backed by the Qom marja's, capitalized on the Jaleh Square massacre to paint the regime as brutal and illegitimate. Aided by a rumor-mongering machine that became fully operational in the absence of reliable media and news reporting, the number of casualties, the “martyrs” on the path of Islam, was inflated to thousands, and the troops who opened fire on them were labeled as Israeli mercenaries who were brought in to crush the revolution.

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.

A general strike in October shut down the petroleum industry that was essential to the administration's survival, "sealing the Shah's fate".[21] 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.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28]


Initially, Western media and opposition reported "15,000 dead and wounded", but Iranian government officials reported that 86 people had died in Tehran in the whole day.[29][page needed][30] French social theorist Michel Foucault first reported that 2,000 to 3,000 people had died in Jaleh Square, and he later raised that number to 4,000.[3] Johann Beukes, author of Foucault in Iran, 1978–1979, notes that "Foucault seems to have adhered to this exaggerated death count at Jaleh Square, propagated by the revolting masses themselves. Thousands were wounded, but the death toll unlikely accounted to more than hundred casualties".[31]

The BBC's correspondent in Iran, Andrew Whitley, reported that hundreds had died.[32]

According to the military historian Spencer C. Tucker, 94 were killed on Black Friday, consisting of 64 protesters and 30 government security forces.[2] According to the Iranologist Richard Foltz, 64 protesters died at Jaleh Square.[1]

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.[3] Another source puts the Martyrs Foundation tabulation of dead at 84 during that day.[33]

The square's name was later changed to the Square of Martyrs (Maidan-e Shohada) by the Islamic republic.[18]

Since the 2000s, some former Pahlavi dynasty politicians have suggested greater ambiguity in the situation, in particular the presence of Palestinian guerrillas in Iran, who they believe were agitators.[34][35][page needed]

In art[edit]

In Persian[edit]

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 [Pers. "the dew"] turned to blood.).[36]

In English[edit]

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.[37] 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."[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Foltz, Richard (2016). Iran in World History. Oxford University Press. p. 108.
  2. ^ a b c Tucker, Spencer C. (2017). The Roots and Consequences of Civil Wars and Revolutions: Conflicts that Changed World History. ABC-CLIO. p. 439.
  3. ^ a b c d "A Question of Numbers".
  4. ^ a b Shakman Hurd, Elizabeth (2009). The Politics of Secularism in International Relations. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1400828012.
  5. ^ Berg-Sørensen, Anders (2016). Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives. Routledge. ISBN 9781317160243.
  6. ^ Thiessen, Mark (2008). An Island of Stability: The Islamic Revolution of Iran and the Dutch Opinion. Sidestone Press. ISBN 9789088900198.
  7. ^ a b "Emad Baghi :: English". Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  8. ^ Andrew Scott Cooper,The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran Hardcover – 19 July 2016 ISBN 0805098976
  9. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand (21 July 1982). Iran Between Two Revolutions. Princeton University Press. p. 516. ISBN 978-0691101347. black friday iran.
  10. ^ Razipour, Suzanne Maloney and Keian (24 January 2019). "The Iranian revolution—A timeline of events". Brookings. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Timeline of the Iranian revolution". Reuters. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  12. ^ Bashiriyeh, Hossein (27 April 2012). The State and Revolution in Iran (RLE Iran D). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781136820892.
  13. ^ Fischer, Michael M. J. (15 July 2003). Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution. Univ of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299184735.
  14. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 160–1
  15. ^ Bakhash, Schaul (1990). The Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution. New York: Basic Books. p. 15.
  16. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand (23 August 2018). A History of Modern Iran. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-19834-0.
  17. ^ "Islamic Revolution of Iran". Archived from the original on 28 October 2009.
  18. ^ a b "Black Friday". Archived from the original on 20 May 2003.
  19. ^ Taheri, The Spirit of Allah (1985), p. 223.
  20. ^ Amanat, Abbas (2017). Iran: A Modern History. Yale University Press. p. 719.
  21. ^ Moin, Khomeini (2000), p. 189.
  22. ^ The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution, Abbas Milani, pp. 292–293
  23. ^ Seven Events That Made America America, Larry Schweikart, p.
  24. ^ The Iranian Revolution of 1978/1979 and How Western Newspapers Reported It, Edgar Klüsener, p. 12
  25. ^ Cultural History After Foucault, John Neubauer, p. 64
  26. ^ Islam in the World Today: A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society, by Werner Ende, Udo Steinbach, p. 264
  27. ^ The A to Z of Iran, John H. Lorentz, p. 63
  28. ^ Islam and Politics, John L. Esposito, p. 212
  29. ^ Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, 1919–1980. (1980). Answer to History. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Co. ISBN 0-7720-1296-2. OCLC 11080339.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza Shah (2003) Answer to History Irwin Pub, page 160, ISBN 978-0772012968
  31. ^ Beukes, Johann (2020). Foucault in Iran, 1978–1979. AOSIS. p. 53 (note 26).
  32. ^ "Black Friday Massacre – Iran (SEp. 8 1978)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2013
  33. ^ E. Baqi, 'Figures for the Dead in the Revolution', Emruz, 30 July 2003, quoted in Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 160–1
  34. ^ Ganji, Manouchehr (2002). Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-97187-8.
  35. ^ Cooper, Andrew Scott (2 August 2016). The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-8050-9897-6.
  36. ^ Staff writers. "Jales became bloody". Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  37. ^ Akhavan, Nastaran (3 May 2012). Spared. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1463619428.
  38. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (14 November 2013). "Frag-counter revolutionaries: Iran 1979 revolution-based video game to launch". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.