Fundamentalist Islamic cleric (1900-1989). Ruhollah Khomeini was taught Islam in his home and in school, and in the 1950s, was named an ayatollah, or supreme religious leader, by the Shiites in Iran.

Khomeini was exiled from Iran in 1964 for criticizing the Shah--he relocated to Iraq, but Saddam Hussein kicked him out in 1978. He lived in France until the Iranian revolution deposed the Shah's secular government; he returned to Iran in 1979 and declared the country an Islamic republic, creating the modern theocracy of Iran.

Khomeini and his followers cracked down on secular customs in the nation and promoted anti-Western, anti-Israeli, and anti-U.S. beliefs. His followers stormed the American embassy and took numerous hostages, who were held for 444 days. He also presided over Iran during the disastrous Iran-Iraq War. Since his death in the 1980s, Iran has been softening its hard line against the United States.

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Shiite religious leader of the 1970s. Gained rulership of Iran by overthrowing Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi. Established a religious state based on strict obedience of the Qur'an. Supported taking of hostages of a captured US embassy, blindfolding, and marching them around the streets of Tehran.

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