US embassy cable - 78TEHRAN389

SERIOUS RELIGIOUS DISSIDENCE IN QOM

Identifier: 78TEHRAN389
Wikileaks: View 78TEHRAN389 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tehran
Created: 1978-01-11 13:00:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PINS IR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 111300Z JAN 78
FM AMEMBASSY TEHRAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6361
INFO USINT BAGHDAD
AMEMBASSY JIDDA
AMEMBASSY LONDON
C O N F I D E N T I A L TEHRAN 0389 
 
Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic 
Review 30 JUN 2006 
 
E.O. 11652: GDS 
TAGS: PINS IR 
SUBJ: SERIOUS RELIGIOUS DISSIDENCE IN QOM 
 
1. IN MOST SERIOUS INCIDENT OF THIS SORT FOR YEARS, 5 
DEMONSTRATORS WERE SHOT DEAD AND 9 INJURED WHEN POLICE 
OPENED FIRE ON A CROWD ATTEMPTING TO OCCUPY A POLICE 
STATION IN THE HIGHLY RELIGIOUS CITY OF QOM JAN 9. A 
POLICE OFFICE AND 3 POLICEMEN WERE INJURED BY THE 
DEMONSTRATORS AND ONE 13 YEAR BOY WAS TRAMPLED TO DEATH 
IN THE STAMPEDE THAT FOLLOWED THE SHOOTING. 
 
2. INCIDENT OCCURRED ON ANNIVERSARY OF LAND REFORM 
LEGISLATION PASSED IN 1963. IT FOLLOWED A MUCH MILDER 
PROTEST BY STUDENTS OF RELIGION SHOUTING ANTI-NATIONAL 
SLOGANS ON JAN 7 THE 42ND ANNIVERSARY OF REZA SHAH'S 
DECREE ABOLISHING THE VEIL FOR WOMEN. 
 
3. ON THE 9TH A MOB OF PROTESTORS ARMED WITH STONES, 
IRON BARS, AND WOODEN STAVES REPORTEDLY RAMPAGED THROUGH 
THE STREETS SMASHING WINDOWS OF SHOPS AND DESTROYING 
PREMISES OF REASTAKHIZ PARTY HEADQUARTERS. THEY THEN 
TRIED TO TAKE OVER A POLICE STATION, DAMAGING POLICE 
VEHICLES OUTSIDE. POLICE WARNINGS AND WARNING SHOTS INTO 
THE AIR WENT UNHEEDED, AND POLICE THEN FIRED INTO THE 
CROWD. 
 
4. INFORMATION ON THIS INCIDENT WAS RELEASED TO THE PRESS 
BY PARS NEW AGENCY AFTERNOON JAN 10. SAME INFORMATION WAS 
GIVEN TO DCM BY COURT MINISTER HOVEYDA AT SHAH'S DINNER 
THAT EVENING FOR VISITING CODE. 
 
5. COMMENT: DEMONSTRATIONS ARE BEING ASCRIBED BY POLICE 
AUTHORITIES -- ACCURATELY WE BELIEVE -- TO CONSERVATIVE 
RELIGIOUS OPPOSITION ELEMENTS (THOUGH NOT SPECIFICALLY TO 
FOLLOWERS OF KHOMEINI OR TO ISLAMIC MARXISTS AS SUCH). 
THIS IS FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS, IN OUR RECOLLECTION, 
THAT POLICE HAVE KILLED SEVERAL DEMONSTRATORS BY FIRING 
INTO A CROWD. SEVERITY OF THIS INCIDENT WOULD APPEAR TO 
ARGUE AGAINST THOSE AMONG THE JOURNALISTS AND OTHER 
OBSERVERS HERE WHO HAVE SUSPECTED MANY RECENT INCIDENTS 
WERE COOKED UP BY IRANIAN SECURITY FORCES TO IMPRESS THE 
SHAH AND/OR USG. BY THE SAME TOKEN, IT IS POSSIBLE TO 
CONCLUDE THAT RELATIVE POLICE LENIENCY, AS FOR EXAMPLE IN 
LACK OF EFFECTIVE REACTION TO STUDENT DEMONSTRATION JAN 7, 
ENCOURAGED MORE VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION WHICH NECESSITATED 
VIOLENT REPRESSION TO PUT DOWN. AT LEAST IT IS CONCEIVABLE 
THAT THE MANY PROPONENTS OF THE MAILED FIST IN GOI 
ESTABLISHMENT MIGHT SO ARGUE TO THE SHAH AND PRIMIN 
AMOUZEGAR IN EFFORT TO REVERSE RELATIVE LIBERALIZATION OF 
RECENT MONTHS. 
 
SULLIVAN 
 
CONFIDENTIAL 
 
Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic 
Review 30 JUN 2006 

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