The Iranian Revolution: Chilling snapshots of a lynch mob

Forty years ago, the Iranian Revolution overthrew 2,500 years of monarchy. The Magnum photographer Abbas captured vivid images of the events as they unfolded.

This story originally ran in November 2017, and has been updated for the 40th anniversary of the revolution.

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“You have history, and you have the history of the present,” says the Iranian photographer Abbas in this film, describing his images of the Iranian Revolution, which overthrew Mohammad Reza Shah 40 years ago. Refusing to shy away from violence by the government or religious militants, Abbas captured protestors outside the US Embassy in Tehran, a soldier threatening him with a grenade and a mullah pointing a gun from a car window.

One particularly chilling image shows a lynch mob attacking a woman on the street. His friends told him not to show the picture because it revealed the dark side of the revolution, but he refused. “I said: ‘I’m sorry – it might be my country, my people, and my revolution, but I’m also a journalist, which means a historian of the present, so I have to show this picture now.’”

In this film, Abbas – who died in April 2018 – describes those events, and explains how the revolution sent ripples across the world that are still felt today.

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