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Iran, 1978 – when the Cinema Rex burned down

  • Name: Michele Cervoni Anderson
  • Destination: Tehran, Iran
  • When: Summer, 1978
  • Hometown: Newburgh, New York
  • Organization: AFS
English: Cinema Rex building after the fire; s...

The Cinema Rex, after the fire. Image via Wikipedia

Before I left Iran, some of my host family (cousins) took me by car to see some of the extremely poor sections of Tehran and also to see the very opulent “crown jewels” of the Shah at a museum.  They told me to remember what I had seen.

When that theater burned, it was very vivid in my mind because the next day this newspaper — which I couldn’t read because it was in Farsi — had this picture on the front page of these charred bodies.  It was really graphic.  What everybody thought at that point, and I’m only now coming to find out that it was something different, everybody thought it was the Shah and his secret police that had locked the doors.  But now I’ve been doing a lot of internet research and the feeling is now that it was actually the Islamic fundamentalists that did this and blamed it on the Shah, and that sort of started everything rolling.

I remember soon after that they had limited the number of people that could be together in a group in public, and we were going to be going to Esfahan with a family with nine kids, so we had to go in three cars and sorta not all be together.  With the parents there were about 20 of us.  It was interesting!


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