Black Friday 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
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.