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DATE=6/3/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=IRAN KHOMEINI TOMB NUMBER=5-46435 BYLINE=DALE GAVLAK DATELINE=TEHRAN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Beginning today (Saturday), thousands of Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims are visiting the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini outside of Tehran to commemorate his death and the overthrown of Iran's Pahlavi monarchy. Eleven years after his death, Images of Imam Khomeini's stern, bearded face still stare down on Iranians from all major streets and even in most shops throughout the country. His presence and ideas are felt everywhere. Dale Gavlak reports from Tehran. TEXT: /// SOUNDS OF CHILDREN - FADE UNDER /// Iranian school children take annual class trips to visit the tomb of the man they do not know, but whose influence on their country's history and politics affects every aspect of their lives. Elementary teacher Shireen Husseini has brought her class of seven-year-olds from Iserghani Islam primary school in Tehran to Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine. Although they make other class outings, like picnics or camping trips, Mrs. Husseini says it is important that these very young children are introduced to the leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution by taking them to his tomb. She speaks through a translator. /// HUSSEINI, TRANSLATOR ACT /// We give just some basic information to them that he was the founder of the Islamic revolution and the one who toppled the old regime and brought in the new regime. Just such information because they are kids and they will get to know more as they grow. /// END ACT /// Commemorating Imam Khomeini's death and his role in helping overthrow the Pavlavi dynasty coincides with the dates of the deaths of Islam's Prophet Mohamed and Shi'ite imams, Hassan and Reza. It gives the coming week a powerful mix of religious mourning and Islamist politics in Iran. /// RELIGIOUS MUSIC ACT, FADE UNDER /// A few scattered kiosks selling religious music and tapes dot the vast, unfinished complex housing Imam Khomeini's mausoleum. Huge turquoise and gold domes cap the mosque housing the tomb located in what is considered the world's largest burial ground -- the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. It is located along the highway between Tehran and Islam's holy city of Qom. Inside the mausoleum, women and men cluster together either to pray, meditate, read or recline along the 100-meter-long, alabaster-colored marble floor. /// PRAYER RECITATION ACT FADE UNDER /// Another school group -- this time 12-year-old boys -- follows their male teacher. They are praying for Imam Khomeini in front of his glass-covered tomb, which is situated in the center of the mosque. His casket is decked in a red cloth. A Koran is placed between his casket and that of his son, Haj Sayed Ahmad e Khomeini. Some Iranians believe the son was poisoned to prevent his succession to power. Colorful Iranian paper bills and coins - left by pilgrims seeking special prayers -- line the tomb floor and glass casing. Despite the persistent references to Imam Khomeini, the Islamic republic is evolving under the leadership of reformist President Mohamed Khatami. Yet the new reformist-led parliament's first act was to pay respects at Imam Khomeini's tomb and pledge allegiance to the Islamic revolution. Two young girls, covered from head to foot in a traditional black chador, drop to the floor to pray. Then, speaking through a translator, one of the girls explains why they are visiting. /// GIRL ACT /// We are very interested to come here. The love we have for Imam Khomeini fills us here. /// END ACT /// Although guards are on hand to make sure order is maintained, the guards say they have never seen any problems erupt inside the mausoleum. /// GUARD ACT IN FARSI FADE UNDER /// Ali Shafei is serving his two-year Iranian military commitment guarding the tomb. He says sometimes a few people visit, other times the mausoleum is so crowed visitors can not find a place to sit or stand. It all depends, he says, on the religious ceremony or occasion. For nine-year-old Somaya Shabani, visiting Imam Khomeini's shrine is a weekly ritual. Dressed in a bright red and yellow floral print dress, Somaya, looks like she has come from Iran's countryside rather the area nearby the tomb. /// SOMAYA ACT IN FARSI FADE UNDER /// She says here is the imam's shrine and Iranians come here for him. Everybody who has a problem comes here to tell the imam and she says they expect he will answer their prayers. (SIGNED) NEB/DG/GE/JP 03-Jun-2000 10:10 AM EDT (03-Jun-2000 1410 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .