4 September was Eid-e-Fitr, the holiday celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan. A permit for an open air prayer was granted, in which 200,000–500,000 people attended. Instead, the clergy directed the crowd on a large march through the center of Tehran (the Shah reportedly watched the march from his helicopter, unnerved and confused). A few days later even larger protests took place, and for the first time protesters called for Khomeini's return and the establishment of an Islamic republic.
At midnight on 8 September, the Shah declared martial law in Tehran and 11 other major cities throughout the country. All street demonstrations were banned, and a night-time curfew was established. Tehran's martial law commander was General Gholam-Ali Oveissi, who was known for his severity against opponents.