Skip to main content

Fedaʾiyan-e Khalq

FEDAʾIYAN-E KHALQ

The main Marxist guerrilla movement in contemporary Iran.

Fedaʾiyan-e Khalq (The People's Devotees) was created during the early 1970s by young dissidents from both the Tudeh Party and Mohammad Mossadegh's National Front who felt that their parent organizations, with their conventional political strategies, would never succeed in overthrowing the Pahlavi regime. These young activists were inspired by Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and, most important of all, Che Guevara. A few of them received guerrilla training from the Palestinians in Lebanon. Their first military exploit was to assault a gendarmerie station in the Caspian village of Siyahkal in February l971. This attack, famous later as the Siyahkal incident, acted as a catalyst for the whole revolutionary movement in Iran. It prompted others, especially religious radicals such as the Mojahedin-e Khalq, to follow their example. Even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's disciples have admitted that Siyahkal left a "deep impression" on the Iranian population.

In the years following Siyahkal, the Fedaʾiyan lost all its original leaders and most of its rank and fileeither in shoot-outs, under torture, or by firing squads. Most of these martyrs came from the ranks of the intelligentsiathey were teachers, engineers, and university students. By the time of the Iranian revolution, the Fedaʾiyan enjoyed a widespread mystique of revolutionary heroism and martyrdom, but little remained of its armed organization. This little, however, did play a part in delivering the old regime its coup de grace in the dramatic days of February 1979.

After the revolution, the Fedaʾiyan grew quickly to become the main Marxist organization in Iran, far outshadowing the older Tudeh Party. By early 1981, it had a nationwide structure, its Tehran rallies attracted over 100,000 participants and, with the Mojahedin, its armed cells posed a serious threat to the clerical Islamic Republic. After 1981, however, the Fedaʾiyan went into sharp decline in part because of a massive government repression and in part because of constant internal fragmentation. Government repression took more than 600 Fedaʾiyan lives. The backgrounds of these martyrs were similar to those before the revolution, with one minor variationthe new ones included many more high school students.

The main split came over how to deal with the clerical state. One faction, known as the Aksariyat (Majority), viewed the Khomeini regime as intrinsically anti-imperialist and, therefore, potentially progressive. In this respect, it followed a policy similar to the Tudeh. But the other faction, labeled the Aqalliyat (Minority), saw the regime as the executive committee of the petty bourgeoisie, and, therefore, inherently conservative and even reactionary. The two factions published newspapers with the same title of Kar (Work). Both, however, soon experienced their own splits over such issues as the Tudeh Party, the Mojahedin, the Iraqi war, the Kurdish revolt, and the fall of the Soviet Union. By the early 1990s, there were at least six groups in exile, each with its own newspaper, each tracing its origins to Siyahkal, and each incorporating into its formal name a variation of the term Fedaʾyi. By the early 2000s, these had withered down to twoboth based in Germany.

See also Mojahedin; National Front, Iran; Tudeh Party.


Bibliography

Behrooz, Maziar. Rebels with a Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran. New York and London: I. B. Tauris, l999.

Matin-Asgari, Afshin. Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2002.

ervand abrahamian

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fedaʾiyan-e Khalq." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fedaʾiyan-e Khalq." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fedaiyan-e-khalq

"Fedaʾiyan-e Khalq." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved September 26, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fedaiyan-e-khalq

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.