Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi

Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi

(mo͞ohäm`mäd rĭzä shä pă`ləvē), 1919–80, shah of Iran (1941–79). Educated in Switzerland, he returned (1935) to Iran to attend the military academy in Tehran. He ascended the throne in 1941 after his father, Reza Shah PahleviReza Shah Pahlevi
, 1878–1944, shah of Iran (1925–41). He began his career as an army officer and gained a reputation for valor and leadership. He headed a coup in 1921 and became prime minister of the new regime in 1923.
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, suspected of collaboration with the Germans, was deposed by British and Soviet troops. He narrowly escaped assassination (1949) by a member of the leftist Tudeh party, and in 1953 briefly fled the country after a clash with supporters of Muhammad MussadeghMussadegh, Muhammad
, 1880–1967, Iranian political leader, prime minister of Iran (1951–53). He held a variety of government posts (1914–25) but retired to private life in protest against the shah's assumption of dictatorial powers in 1925.
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. The shah launched (1963) a reform program with U.S. assistance called the "White Revolution," which included land redistribution among citizens, extensive construction, the promotion of literacy, and the emancipation of women, but wealth, emanating from the oil industry, was unequally distributed among Iranians and the clergy disapproved of his pro-Western policies. As popular discontent grew, particularly in the early 1970s, the shah became more repressive, calling upon his brutal secret police (SAVAK) to put down domestic strife. By 1978 demonstrations and unrest had become widespread. On Jan. 16, 1979, Shah Pahlevi fled the country; the exiled religious leader Ruhollah KhomeiniKhomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah
, 1900–1989, Iranian Shiite religious leader. Educated in Islam at home and in theological schools, in the 1950s he was designated ayatollah, a supreme religious leader, in the Iranian Shiite community.
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 returned to Iran and took control. When in Oct., 1979, Iranian extremists stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, they demanded the shah in return for the American hostages being held in the embassy. The shah remained abroad and died in Egypt in 1980.

Bibliography

See biography by A. Milani (2011).

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