(1900—1989) Iranian Shiite Muslim leader
Iranian Shiite Muslim leader. After 16 years in exile he returned to Iran in 1979 to lead an Islamic revolution which overthrew the shah. He established a fundamentalist Islamic republic, supported the seizure of the US embassy (1979) by Iranian students, and relentlessly pursued the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88). In 1989 he issued a fatwa condemning Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses and offering a reward for his murder, which provoked criticism from the West. The Iranian government withdrew its support from the fatwa in 1998.