A Pivotal Day In Iranian History — ‘Cinema Rex fire’: Aug 19, 1978

“The Cinema Rex fire was set by radical Islamic supporters”: According to state-run newspaper in 2001.

At 9:00 PM on August 19, 1978, the anniversary of 1953 plot (known as a “coup d’état “), four Islamist terrorist men entered the lobby in the Rex movie theatre (Cinema Rex) in Abadan city, Iran where 700 Iranian movie-goers attended to watch the propaganda film, the Deer (Gavaznha in Persian) — a 1974 drama directed by the Iranian leftist filmmaker, Masoud Kimiai who later made significant effort for the establishment of the Islamic cinema following 1979.

Pivotal Day In Iranian History — Cinema Rex fire Aug 19 1978 ICBPS Shabnam Assadollahi
A Pivotal Day In Iranian History — Cinema Rex fire Aug 19, 1978. Shabnam Assadollahi

Around 10 PM that evening, four aforementioned men left the movie early, locked the doors in the lobby and poured a solution of paint thinner and cooking oil on the doorways. While three of the men then reentered the theatre, the fourth one flicked a match into the carefully constructed death trap on all four sides of the building to prevent rescue attempts. Flames and smoke swept through the movie hall around 10 p.m which took six hours to douse the fire. It was the deadliest terrorist attack the world had seen until the 9/11 attacks. Witnesses reported that many of the victims of the fire were women and children. Various sources claim that out of 700 persons, between 370 to 430 were burned alive. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this attack were never prosecuted or even identified.

Western Mainstream Media instantly and foolishly blamed the Shah’s National Organization for Security and Intelligence, ‘S.A.V.A.K.’ (Persian: ساواک Sāzemān-e Ettelā’āt va Amniyat-e Keshvar) for the Rex fire so the Brits, their American and French allies, together with their media would start assisting Ayatollah Khomeini, the Marxist and MEK militant groups by causing hatred and anger against the Shah to trigger Khomeini’s 1979 hoax Islamic revolution.

Burning cinemas in Iran became a symbol of the radical Islamic war against the Shah’s government, leading to its overthrow in January 1979 and ending Iran’s centuries old monarchical dynasties and destroying her civilization.

A Pivotal Day In Iranian History — Cinema Rex fire Aug 19 1978 ICBPS Shabnam Assadollahi 5
A Pivotal Day In Iranian History — Cinema Rex fire Aug 19, 1978. Shabnam Assadollahi

According to the press, the panic-stricken audience stampeded toward the building’s two emergency exits, which reportedly had been locked as an anti-terrorist measure. Half of the audience managed to get out with an estimated 100 escaping unhurt and 223 suffering burns or other injuries. The rest were trampled to death, asphyxiated, or burned alive. Fire-rescuers battled the blaze for six hours before bringing it under control. At first, they were unable to get within 50 yards of the theatre because of the searing heat, and when they eventually put out the flames nothing was left of the building but twisted and blackened steel girder and dead bodies in ashes.

The Shah’s late Prime Minister Jamshid Amouzegar called the fire a “national catastrophe” and the Shah sent his condolences to families of the victims and the government blamed the fire an action by the Islamist or Marxist radicals.

In 2001, the Iranian newspaper, Sobhe Emrooz revealed that the Cinema Rex fire was set by radical Islamic supporters; later those journalists were silenced when the newspaper was shut down by the Islamic government of Iran. And they have not ceased censorship among their citizens, arresting many truth speakers to this day.

A Pivotal Day In Iranian History — Cinema Rex fire Aug 19 1978 ICBPS Shabnam Assadollahi 2
A Pivotal Day In Iranian History — Cinema Rex fire Aug 19, 1978. Shabnam Assadollahi

The fire had been the work of four Islamic activists who had carried out the deadly mission as part of their allegiance to Khomeini and his Islamic Revolution. Only one of the arsonists had survived the fire. He had remained in hiding until he could stand his anonymity no more. He confessed to the crime because he could no longer sit and watch someone else receive the credit for what he saw as the ultimate act of sacrifice for the Islamic Revolution.

The movie, Deer was a black and white drama that depicted the story of a drug addict who had helped his homeboy, a participant of an armed uprising against the Shah’s government, to escape. The Deer was particularly significant because it was the only movie that showed the main characters fighting against the Shah’s guards with guns. One can sense the careful planning of these arsonists and their identification with the main characters. But, one must wonder why they would prefer an Islamic and oppressive regime over the more palatable, liberating, and prosperous reign of the Shah.

In the days that followed the attack, flyers were passed around to the citizens full of propaganda blaming the Shah and his secret police for setting the fire. This information incensed the people as they believed it was true. “Mekosham, Mekosham aan keh baradaram kosht!” (I will kill whoever killed my brother!”) became the cry of the people and many went to war against the Shah, sacrificing their own lives for the cause.

It took 23 years to unveil that this horrifying arson terrorist attack was plotted by the Iranian radical Islamists; a masterminded plan to create a tragedy and blame it on the Shah. Many were victims of the Islamist propaganda and many lost their lives because of the deception. Sadly, millions of Iranians participated in Khomeini’s hoax revolution and made the unforgivable mistake of bringing this terrorist regime to power — the West also standing guilty for promoting the lie.

This sounds eerily similar to a lot of what we are witnessing in the news today all over the world and especially in U.S.A. We have to be wise, not gullible, not easily provoked. We must learn from history and learn how to discern the times as we cannot afford to make the same mistakes. Iran and Iranians have paid dearly! In other history millions have paid dearly! What will be our future?

Will Iranians ever Forget and Forgive the globalists’ plot against their country and civilization as it continues against humanity at large.

With many thanks to Iranian Canadian author and translator, Sara Akrami for her insight about the movie, Deer.

Written by the award-winning Canadian human rights advocate and freelance writer Shabnam Assadollahi.

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