A series of escalating protests broke out in major cities, and deadly riots broke out in Isfahan where protesters fought for the release of Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri. Martial law was declared in the city on 11 August as symbols of Western culture and government buildings were burned, and a bus full of American workers was bombed. Due to his failure to stop the protests, Prime Minister Amuzegar offered his resignation.
The Shah increasingly felt that he was losing control of the situation and hoped to regain it through complete appeasement. He decided to appoint Jafar Sharif-Emami to the post of prime minister, himself a veteran prime minister. Emami was chosen due to his family ties to the clergy, but he had a reputation of corruption during his previous premiership. Under the Shah's guidance, Sharif-Emami effectively began a policy of "appeasing the opposition's demands before they even made them".