Though these social reforms were thought to be beneficial, they did not increase popularityamong the lower class as the Shah had intended to do. Through land reforms, the governmentbought lands from the elite and sold them under the market value at low interest rates to thepeasants. Consequently, the peasants now had land but, lacked equipment and resourcesnecessary to produce much. In the 60s, frustrated, peasants who formally worked on elite ownedlands moved to urban cities nearby to find work, which plummeted the production in the country.Their resentment towards the Shah also grew when he abolished opposing political parties,professional associations, trade unions, and independent newspapers. Another cause of upsetamong the people was the inflation and economic instability. Since oil sales were the mainsource of income for the country, the increase of oil sales caused inflation, affecting the people’sbuying power and standard of living.As for the clergy, this period was the re-appearance of the religious movement against the Shah'sregime. They were against the secularization and Westernization that the reforms brought andfeared losing their social base as a result. They thought the Shah to be merely a puppet of a non-Muslim Western power which knew nothing of Iran’s culture or Islamic beliefs. The clergytherefore started using the religious sentiments of the people and the network at their disposal,organising large demonstrations in Tehran and Qom on June 6 1963. The demonstrations weresuppressed by the army and showed that the Shah's regime relied greatly on the military force toremain in power. With the reforms, the clergy was stripped of much of its power and influence in4 (Abrahamian 2008, 134)4
the education sector and, traditionally land owners, they lost much of their lands. Though theclergy was also against the emancipation of women and granting them suffrage, they neverpublically protested until Khomeini. Khomeini was outraged that non-Muslim men or womencould be judges, which he thought to be against Islam. He made a speech where he objectedmuch of the social reforms and even attacked the Shah. Following his speech, he was arrested,which started a three day riot in June of 1963. During this riot the phrase “Death to the dictator.God save you, Khomeini” was first chanted. This was the first time that Khomeini’s image wasused as a leader to protest the Shah’s regime. Though the SAVAK was quickly able to crush theriot, the ordeal only caused more anger and resentment towards the government as the police hadkilled and injured many civilian protestors. The government officials wanted Khomeini executedfor starting this riot, but knew it would create uproar among his supporters. With the Shah’sapproval, the clergy made a religious decree to declare Khomeini a marja. A marja is the highestlevel of Islamic Shia authority able to make legal decisions based on Islamic law for theirfollowers. Khomeini was therefore freed from house arrest in April of 1964, but then sent to exilein Iraq the following November.