Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was the monarch of Iran from 1941 to 1979. During his reign, on June 5, 1963, the government arrestedAyatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an event that proved to be pivotal in building support for the resistance against the Shah and his Western-supported regime.
The authorities had apprehended Khomeini two days after he delivered an incendiary speech to Islamic students at a madrassa. In severaltowns throughout Iran, large numbers of citizens turned out to demonstrate against the government upon hearing news of Khomeini's arrest.The country was in a state of upheaval for six days, and thus was born the Movement of Khordad 15, named after the Iranian calendar dateon which the ayatollah was arrested.
Demonstrations continued on the anniversary of the arrest for 15 years leading up to Khomeini's rise to power. In 1975, one fateful rally heldin Khomeini's hometown of Qom was crushed by the Iranian army, resulting in the deaths of many protesters.
In February 1979, millions greeted Khomeini when he returned from 15 years of exile. By the end of the following month, Iranians passed anational referendum to establish an Islamic Republic based on a new constitution. The Shah was removed from power, and Khomeiniinstalled a theocratic government.
Protests became less common after 1979, since Khomeini successfully had fulfilled the mission of the Khordad 15 movement. In the yearsfollowing the ayatollah's death in 1989, which occurred on Khordad 14, the elaborate memorials for the revered leader began overshadowingthe observances of the anniversary the following day.