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Additional resources for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Some of the largest newspapers and magazines in the world, including American periodicals, sent reporters to interview the man who was rousing such an intense public frenzy against an established government. During the four months he resided in the Paris suburb of Neauphle-le-Château, Khomeini granted an average of one interview a day. Now the whole world was reading about what had been, until then, merely a national crisis in an isolated Middle Eastern country. The attention of many millions was drawn to Iran.
Those supporters who did come brought along mattresses, rugs, sleeping bags, and even lawn chairs to make themselves comfortable. Some carried tape recorders to preserve the sermons or to send cassettes of them back home. . Khomeini said that the Shah must go. He said it over and over, to thousands of Iranian pilgrims who came to pay court and to hundreds of foreign journalists hungry like me for a story. He spoke in riddles, mumbled as he talked, and didn’t smile. His followers lamented his situation—an exile, a transplanted Persian, having no access to a mosque.
This was not the Iran of his youth. It was not the kind of society that had been encouraged by the prophet Muhammad. Khomeini by this time had a vision for a new Iran. He had concluded that the shah himself was only one part of the country’s problem. The entire system of government—a hereditary monarchy—was wrong, according to Islamic teaching. In taped and photocopied speeches that his devotees smuggled into Iran, he proclaimed that the Pahlavi reign must be brought to an end. In its place would emerge an Islamic republic, a government based on traditional Islamic teachings and similar to the seventhcentury Islamic society of the prophet Muhammad and his followers.