Twenty-one years ago, on June 3, 1989, Ayatullah Khomeini passed away, a decade after leading the Islamic Revolution of Iran, an event that proved to be a nightmare to Western powers ever since. Tens of millions of mourners accompanied his coffin to the final resting place in Tehran (right), the same way he was welcomed at Tehran from his exile in France, to overthrow one of the most brutal regimes in the Muslim world, the Shah monarchy.
IQBAL SIDDIQUI writes about his achievements and legacy for Muslim activists around the world, and how he had challenged the Shi'i ulama at that time and made them closer to the Sunni political thought.
And yet he is in fact one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented figures of recent history. This is because the images and impressions people have of him are largely those generated and promoted by the West-dominated international media, for which he became a hate-figure after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978–79.
In the Muslim world, moreover, enemies of the Islamic Revolution, and of political Islam generally, have not only adopted the West’s negative image of him, but have further added the sectarian label of “Shi‘i” to try to neutralise his influence on Islamic movements and activists there.