Had Imam Khomeini the support of French government when he was in France? How did they allow him to present his enlightening lectures at the presence of local and international reporters?

Sending Imam into exile seemed like an achievement for the Shah. When Imam migrated to Paris the Shah became more satisfied, since he could see his strongest dissident as far away from the capital at the heart of Europe.

Besides, he thought it would be an opportunity for western media to reflect Imam's old-fashioned and fanatic ideas which in turn diminishes Imam's guiding role.

However, Shah was afraid that Imam's speeches are spread over the region and across the globe through the media. Therefore he requested the French government to set necessary limits for Imam's activities as much as he resided in France and they felt obliged to do so.

As explained by Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini in his memoirs the main reason of French government's inability to conceal Imam's views and stances on the regime of Shah dates back to his residence in Najaf:

After Imām’s interview with Le Monde, other interviews were requested in the course of the repeated calls from newspapers, magazines, and radio-television of various countries. It is said that the great number of requests for interviews were because of the thirst on the part of those in the world of politics for information on the situation in Iran and, likewise, on the dimensions of Imām’s thoughts. That interview was so explicit and illuminating that, in the conditions that Iran was considered to be an island of tranquility, it gave rise to many doubts. Everybody wanted to know how the Imām, sitting in the corner of a room measuring 2x3, was able to talk about a great upheaval and to give the tidings of the great Islamic revolution. On the other hand, the two governments of Iran and Iraq, more than the other regional governments, were overcome by fear as Imām was in Iraq from where he was leading the Iranians. The Iraqi authorities announced officially that Imām did not have the right to grant interviews. If anybody wanted to interview him, he would have to notify the authorities. Simultaneous with these imposed restrictions, we acceded to the request for an interview from France’s radio-television. After the arrival of the French reporters in Iraq, the Iraqi security organs got wind of the matter, mobilizing themselves to the fullest extent to prevent the interview from being held. I told my very good friends about this; and we agreed to so handle the matter that the authorities would not come to know about the interview that was to take place.

The Iraqi security agents kept tight surveillance over the avenue leading to Imām’s house and, likewise, the street in which the house was situated. We informed the reporters through one of the Europeans to take a route that was not being controlled at the time of their coming. It was also arranged to meet the reporters in one of the remotest streets of Najaf and ask them to enter Imām’s house through another door which was almost unguarded. They had placed their filming equipment in the avenue which, because of its heaviness, had to be brought perforce via the main avenue. After transferring the equipment to the house and the agents’ coming to know of it, it did not take much time before the doorbell rang and some of the security personnel entered the house. They wanted to stop the interview from being held, but I had locked them in after their entry. It was some time before they realized that they were imprisoned in our house, and that there was nothing they could do about it. In spite of their efforts to go, I did not allow them to do so. The reporters left as soon as the interview was over. I opened the door after a while whereupon they hurriedly left the house – or their prison. We received news that the reporters had been arrested in Baghdad; however, they had dispatched the tapes in a certain manner.

Following this interview, the attitude of the Iraqis towards the Imām, and those concerned with such matters, became very rough and rude. It was not long before Imām was on his way to Kuwait, subsequently proceeding to France. The French government banned the publication of Imām’s interview, and did not allow anybody to interview him. The interview that Imām had given the radio-television had not been published as yet when, one day, I saw it published in Figaro newspaper. We later heard that Figaro had bought the interview from the radio-television for a sum equivalent to five hundred thousand tumans.

The commencement of Imām’s interviews has an interesting story as well that I am relating once more. The beginning of the interview took place in the form of negotiations, in that they were not questions and answers. The editors of Le Monde, Le Mondeor others would come to Imām and then publish the conversations that they had with him, saying that this was not what their government had forbidden. The public opinion in France finally became so formed that the French government was obliged to allow the interviews to be held.

Sahifeh-ye Imam, vol. 3, pp. 484-85

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