Black Friday (Jome-ye Siaah) is the name given to 8 September 1978 (17 Shahrivar 1357 AP) and the shootings in Zhaleh (or Jaleh) Square in Tehran, Iran. The deaths and the reaction to them has been described as a pivotal event in the Iranian Revolution when any "hope for compromise" between the protest movement and the Shah's regime was extinguished.
Background and massacre
Jaleh Square shooting
As protest against the Shah's rule continued during the spring and summer of 1978, the Iranian government declared martial law. On 8 September, thousands gathered in Tehran's Jaleh Square for a religious demonstration, despite the fact that the government had declared martial law the day before.
The soldiers ordered the crowd to disperse, but the order was ignored. Initially, it was thought that either because of this reason, or because of the fact that the protesters kept pushing towards the military, the military opened fire, killing and wounding several people.
Black Friday is thought to have marked the point of no return for the revolution, and 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.
Initially opposition and western journalists claimed that the Iranian army massacred thousands of protesters. The clerical leadership announced that "thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops."
Demonstration of Black Friday, the sentence on placard: "We want an Islamic government, led by Imam Khomeini"
The events triggered protests continued for another four months. The day after Black Friday, 9 September 1978, Hoveyda resigned as minister of court, although unrelated to the situation. A general strike in October shut down the petroleum industry that was essential to the administration's survival, "sealing the Shah's fate".
Continuation of protests ultimately led to Shah leaving from Iran in January 1979, clearing the way for the Iranian Revolution, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Initially, western media
and opposition incorrectly reported "15,000 dead and wounded",
despite reports by the Iranian government officials that 86 people died in
Tehran during the whole day.
Michael Foucault, an often sourced French
journalist, first reported that 2000 - 3000 people died in the Jaleh Square and
later he raised it to 4000 people dead. BBCs correspondent in Iran, Andrew
Whitley, reported that hundreds died.
According to Emad al-Din
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, about 90
were killed in Jaleh Square on Black Friday, among them two females – one woman
and a young girl.
On the same day in other parts of the capital a total of 24 people died in clashes with martial law forces, among them one female, making the total casualties on the same day to 88 deaths. Another source puts the Martyrs Foundation tabulation of dead at 84 during that day. The square's name was later changed to the Square of Martyrs (Maidan-e Shohada) by the Islamic republic.