The Supreme Leader Divided Land

Day after day they marched, tens of thousands strong, defiant chanting demonstrators surging through the streets of Tehran, a capital unaccustomed to the shouts and echoes of dissent. The subject of their protest was the policies of Iran's supreme ruler, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Some carried signs demanding his ouster. Others called for a return of long denied civil and political liberties and the enforcement of Islamic laws. A few even demanded the legalization of the Tudeh, Iran's outlawed Communist party. The crowd, at times numbering more than 100,000, was a colorful, sometimes incongruous cross section of Iranian society: dissident students in jeans; women shrouded in the black chador, the traditional head-to-foot veil; peasants and merchants; and most important the bearded, black-robed Muslim mullahs, the religious leaders of the Shi'ite branch of Islam, which commands the allegiance of 93% of Iran's 34.4 million people.

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