On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran, whereupon he was greeted by millions of Iranians at the airport.Days earlier the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, had fled the country, a year after public demonstrations had begun against his rule.His departure signalled the culmination of the Iranian Islamic revolution.Thirty years on Al Jazeera presents a series of special programmes analysing the political circumstances prior to the revolution and how Iranian society has been shaped by the events of 1979.We hear from eyewitnesses who personally knew the Shah and the Ayatollah, dissect the anatomy of the revolution and report from Iran on how the country has changed.
"There was a paradox at the heart of the man," says Abbas Milani, the biographer of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.The Shah was indeed a polarising figure. For the many thousands of Iranians who had taken to the streets in protest at his reign, he was a hated figure, and they greeted his demise with joy.
When he fled Iran on January 16, 1979, never to return, it was an inglorious end for a man who was both a moderniser and an autocrat.
To his supporters he was a patriot. For his critics he was a Western puppet. Rageh Omaar talks to those who knew him to find out who the last King of Iran and the self-proclaimed king of kings really was
I Knew the Shah can be seen at the following times GMT: Tuesday January 20 1430; Wednesday 0130, 0530 and 1230; Thursday 2330; Friday 0730