The opposition to the Shah and his regime grew stronger in 1978. During the years 1971-6 the Shah's internal policy had been a hard-line one. The prisons filled up and hundreds of people were executed. The religious establishment was severely attacked. Early 1977 saw the start of a policy of liberalization, coinciding with the beginning of Jimmy Carter's presidency in the USA. Political prisoners were released and more freedom of the press was allowed, bringing in its wake calls for still more liberalization.