A Japanese Memories of Imam Khomeini Photo in Keyhan Newspaper

Compilation: Jafar Golshan Roghani
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


After severe suppression of the Pahlavi regime in confrontation with the key elements of the 1963 uprising, including executions, imprisonment and exile, news boycotts and preventing the publication of any news or images of Imam Khomeini became the main agenda of every state and non-governmental organization and institution. SAVAK[1] and Shahrbani[2] would seriously confront the opposition. Following the exile of Imam to Bursary in Turkey in autumn of 1964 and then to Najaf, confrontations with the revolutionaries became more aggressive, and all the visual, audio and written media were forced to enforce the prohibition on printing and publishing of Imam Khomeini's photographs.


Until August 1979, no publications, news, or images of Imam Khomeini were published. But the ban ended on 29 August, 1979, with the publication of photos and news of Imam Khomeini in the full half of the front page of the Keyhan newspaper, and the boycott of Imam Khomeini broke. Those who went to the newsstands to buy one of the two publications in the afternoon of 29 August 1979 encountered a strange scene that was surprising and refreshing, with the publication of a photograph of Imam Khomeini in an official newspaper after about 15 years. It was such an important news that in the early hours, all copies of the newspaper were sold and the second edition was published. In addition to Iranian readers and audiences, this was also of interest to foreigners living in Iran and may have helped them become more familiar with Imam Khomeini.


Morio ono Professor and Director of the Institute of Oriental Culture of the University of Tokyo, Japan, who had traveled to Iran many times before 1979, is among those who remembered the publication of Imam's photograph in the Keyhan newspaper that day and has recounted the memory in his book “I was in Iran in 1979”[3] . "On Tuesday, August 29, two major evening newspapers, Keyhan and Ettela'at, published the first high-profile report on Ayatollah Khomeini who had been exiled to Iraq," he wrote. I saw the Keyhan newspaper with a big headline on the front page that read: "Negotiations for the return of Ayatollah Khomeini" and added that no official announcement has not yet been made but the government has sent a delegation. The newspaper for the first time had published a large picture of Ayatollah Khomeini. Until then, Ayatollah Khomeini was a familiar face to the public, but publication of his image was not allowed. On this day, the name and image of Ayatollah Khomeini suddenly came to the attention of all newspaper readers. The Shah's government did not confirm the report of the mission to meet Ayatollah Khomeini, but did not dare to deny that the government was trying to reach Ayatollah for peace compromise. The situation suggests that the Shah's government has had to admit to the nation that Ayatollah Khomeini was at the center of the anti-government movement. It was the first time I saw the image of Ayatollah Khomeini. This page of the newspaper gave me the feeling that someone who was hiding in the shadows had a face and we were expecting a lot. I remembered the 1963 uprising that happened 15 years ago. That is probably why I did not write anything about the report with the bold headline of the day and the image I first saw (because I was confused). (Pp. 61 and 62).


[1] Iran Intelligence Service during Pahlavi Regime

[2] The police forces during Pahlavi Regime

[3] Ono, Moriu, I was in Iran in 1979, (The Islamic Revolution by Eno Moriu). Rewrite: Kinji-e Oro, translated by: Dr. Hashem Rajabzadeh, Tehran, Tahouri Publication, 2017, page 258

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