Cinema Rex Fire: Tragedy Never Forgotten


Forty one years ago on August 19, 1978,  Islamist terrorists killed 470 Iranians by burning down a theater in Iran to cause hatred and anger against the Shah. This triggered Khomeini emerging from obscurity into center stage world news and symbol of political Islamist manifest.

Western Mainstream Media instantly and readily blamed the Shah and Iran’s National Intelligence Agency ‘S.A.V.A.K.’ for the fire. so the Brits, their American and French allies, together with  media would inject Khomeini and  his hoax revolution into Iran.

Noteworthy, August 19th, 1953 marks controversial day in Iran’s contemporary history when Iranians spontaneously revolted against then Soviet Union take over by Tudeh Communist Party. Iranians along with the army restored Pahlavi Dynasty in less than three days. At the anniversary of the same day, in 1978,  more than 470 Iranians lost their lives, when the Cinema Rex in Abadan, Southern Iran, was set on fire by Islamic terrorists during the screening of the controversial film, the Reindeer (Gavaznha in Persian), directed by Masoud Kimiai.

Burning cinemas and places of happy gatherings which started in Iran as a symbol of Jihad against the Shah’s regime, fast spread to the global arena for the entire world tragically palpable to feel in the years to come.

On that fateful August day, Islamist terrorists barred the entrance doors of Abadan’s Cinema Rex and strategically placed flammable materials inside and around the building before setting it alight. They set fires on all four sides of the building to prevent rescue attempts. Flames and smoke swept through the movie hall around 10 p.m. while an audience of about 700 watched the movie. Witnesses reported that many of the victims of the fire were women and children.

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 theater 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.

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.

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 Political Islam manifest. 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 Islam.

The Reindeer was a controversial and famous black and white political movie that depicted the story of a drug addict who had helped his homeboy, a participant of an armed uprising against the Shah’s regime, to escape. The Reindeer 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.

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. Disinformation incensed the people’s grief in to anger as they would cry on the streets with the fists in the air “I will kill I will kill whoever killed my brother” igniting emotions to sacrifice their own lives to get revenge.

It took 23 years to unveil this horrifying arson terrorist attack was plotted by the radical Islamists; a master minded plan to create a tragedy and blame it on the Shah. As time has unraveled the truth, These days, Iranians regret having been played at the hand of the globalists who dealt them political Islam.

Surely, Islamic Republic will be lost in the dust in Iran’s glorious history of numerous ups and downs yet the tragedy of Cinema Rex  will be there to remind us that Islamic Republic lived in deception as it was conceived in deception.

About the Author
Shabnam Assadollahi is an award-winning Canadian human rights advocate and freelance writer/journalist of Iranian origin. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology and has worked extensively helping newcomers and refugees resettle in Canada and has distinguished herself as a broadcaster, writer and public speaker. Shabnam was arrested and imprisoned at age 16 for eighteen months in Iran’s most notorious prison, Evin. Shabnam’s primary and heartfelt interest is to focus on the Iranian community and world events affecting women and minority communities.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top