Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah

[ (eye-uh-toh-luh rooh-hoh-luh khoh-may-nee, koh-may-nee) ]

An Iranian religious and political leader of the twentieth century. Imposing rule by Islamic law (see Islam) and determined to rid Iran of foreign, and especially American, influences, he became virtual dictator of Iran in 1979. With his blessing, Iranian militants held American diplomats as hostages from 1979 to 1981. He died in 1989.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.