In 1978, al-Zawahiri married his first wife, Azza Ahmed Nowari, a student at Cairo University who was studying philosophy. Their wedding, which was held at the Continental Hotel in Opera Square, was very conservative, with separate areas for both men and women, and no music, photographs, or light-hearted humour.
Boeing 747-237B, Air India Flight 855 on January 1, 1978, crashed into the Arabian Sea just off the coast of Bombay, India, killing all 190 passengers and 23 crew on board. An investigation concluded that the captain became disoriented after the failure of one of the flight instruments in the cockpit, leading to "irrational control inputs" that caused the plane to crash.
On 7 January 1978, an article ("Iran and Red and Black Colonization") appeared in the national daily Ettela'at newspaper. Written under a pseudonym by a government agent, it denounced Khomeini as a "British agent" and a "mad Indian poet" conspiring to sell out Iran to neo-colonialists and communists. Upon the publishing of the article, religious seminary students in the city of Qom, angered over the insult to Khomeini, clashed with police. According to the government, two were killed in the clash; according to the opposition, seventy were killed and over five hundred were injured. However, the casualty figures are different in different sources.
On 10 January 1978, the editor of the Managua newspaper La Prensa, and founder of the Union for Democratic Liberation (UDEL), Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal was murdered by suspected elements of the Somoza regime, and riots broke out in the capital city, Managua, targeting the Somoza regime.
Following the riots, a general strike on 23–24 January called for the end of the Somoza regime and was, according to the U.S. State Department staff at the U.S. Embassy, successful at shutting down around 80% of businesses in not only Managua but also the provincial capitals of León, Granada, Chinandega, and Matagalpa.