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“”There are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others.
Before he succeeded at this, Khomeini chattered a good deal about democracy and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights; once he was in power, however, he instituted a theocracy based on a strict form of Shi'a Islam and officially proclaimed Iran to be an "Islamic Republic;" it appears from his philosophical background that the Islamic came from his religion and the Republic came from the book of that title by Plato, which just goes to show what reading too much Plato can do for a man.
Khomeini's seizure of power was a very unlikely happening that left many bystanders surprised. It had two primary causes:
- The Iranian people had been suffering mightily under the Shah's rule; besides being a dictator and running a very corrupt government, the Shah was being propped up by the U.S., and this arrangement was causing some unwelcome Western cultural influence in the country. A secular reform movement in the early 1950s, led by the prime minister Mohammed Mosaddegh, had been very popular before being crushed by U.S. and British intelligence services at the behest of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation (later BP).
- Other reform movements, such as communist and Islamic socialist groups, underestimated Khomeini's potential influence, believing he could be kept on the sidelines in a broader reform movement.
After he was secure in power, he started making some noise about how the Shi'ite-majority population in neighboring Iraq should rise up and join in the new Islamic Republic; this was one of the causes of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, which left Iran something of a smoking ruin and also caused an upswing in U.S. aid to Saddam Hussein. He also mounted a mass campaign of murder, rape, torture against political opponents and “unbelievers”, as well as their families, children, close friends and anyone who was accused of insufficiently Islamic behaviour.
In 1989 just to prove he wasn't getting soft, Khomeini ordered the execution of 30,000 British prisoners and issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie following the publishing of The Satanic Verses which Khomeini decreed to be blasphemous. Despite the death of Khomeini the fatwa is still extant and Rushdie continues to live in fear for his life.
In early 2012 the 33rd anniversary of his return from exile was celebrated with a re-enactment. As he was dead by this point, a cardboard cutout was used as a stand-in. This was widely mocked online.
Ayatollah Khomeini should not be confused with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who took over (somewhat) sometime after the former's death in 1989. The latter is (by Iranian standards) a moderate, and when in office sought détente with the U.S., until he finally sided with the fundies in 2009.
Yes, Jolly Old Ruhollah hated the Jews as well, ordering the death of Jewish men, women and children who were tried in Stalinist kangaroo courts with extremist clerics. Similar treatment was given the Ba'hai.
 More crazy things!
He’s also known for his interesting views on Bestiality, saying that it’s alright to shag an animal, as long as you don’t eat it but it’s totally okay to give the meat to your neighbour. Khomeini’s own dietary choices were select to say the least. He viewed alcohol as dirty and wouldn’t eat in a restaurant unless served exclusively by Muslim waiters due to his belief that non-Muslims were of course dirty. But in spite of all of that, the very worst thing about Khomeini was that he had absolutely no sense of humour, claiming “There is no room for play in Islam: there are no jokes, there is no joy, there is no humour.” Such a pleasant individual.
- ↑ Unfortunately, a very similar blunder in Germany in 1933, which was also exacerbated by communist bumbling, had not managed to teach the communists anything.
- ↑ http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/cardboard-cutouts-of-khomeini-are-mocked-online/