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Islamic republic of iran. Geography. Arid plateau around 4000 feet above sea level Bounded by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Turkey and Iraq. King Darius - Zoroastrianism. Iranian sovereigns were hereditary military leaders

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  • Arid plateau around 4000 feet above sea level
  • Bounded by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Turkey and Iraq
king darius zoroastrianism
King Darius - Zoroastrianism
  • Iranian sovereigns were hereditary military leaders
  • Darius built capital of Persepolis
  • Built intricate system of roads
  • King’s authority supported by strong military as well as state-sponsored religion: Zoroastrianism
  • Zoroastrianism did not survive as major religion but continued to be practiced regularly until 7th century CE.
shi ism
  • Between 7th & 16th centuries CE religion held Iran together
  • Numerous invasions by Arabs introduced Islam to the region
  • Even when Iranian caliphate was defeated by Mongols in 13th century the Mongolians converted to Islam
  • Shi’ism established as state religion in 16th century
shi ism ii
Shi’ism II
  • Shi’ites – after Muhammad’s death they felt that leadership of the Muslims should be hereditary and pass to Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali.
  • Sunnis favored choosing a caliph from the accepted Sunni leadership
  • When Ali was killed the Shi’ite opinion became a minority one, but they kept their separate identity
  • True heirs of Islam were the descendants of Ali
  • The heirs (Imams) continued until the 9th century, when the 12th descendant disappeared as a a child, to become known as the “Hidden Imam”
twelver shi ism
Twelver Shi’ism
  • “Hidden Imams”
  • 12th Imam disappeared as a child in 874 CE, did not die however, will come forward and show himself to establish just rule at the end of times, when injustice and corruption reign supreme (Messiah-like figure)
  • Ulema were willing to give the right to rule to the shahs as long as they ruled justly
  • By end of the 17th century for a shah’s rule to be legitimate he had to have the ulema’s endorsement
  • Ulema ultimately establish themselves as an institution independent of the state, tithes were often paid to the ulema directly giving them both political and economic influence
  • The center of Twelver Shi’ism is the city of Najaf, in Iraq
safavid empire 1501 1722
Safavid Empire (1501-1722)
  • Established Shi’ite identity in Iran
  • By mid-17th century converted 90% of population to Shi’ism
  • Tolerated “People of the Book” – monotheistic religions based on holy books similar to the Qur’an
  • Serious economic problems do to breakup of the Silk Road
  • Had no money for large bureaucracy or standing army
  • Relied on local rulers to maintain order and collect taxes
  • Claimed absolute power but lacked a central state
  • Monarchy became separated from society and lost power by 1722
qajars 1794 1925
Qajars (1794-1925)
  • Turkish people that reconquered Iran at end of 18th century
  • Moved capital to Tehran
  • Could not claim to be descendents of Twelve Imams
  • Shi’ite clerical leaders could claim more power as interpreters of Islam, separation between government and religion widened
  • Suffered land loss to European empires of 19th century, sold oil rights to British in the southwest
  • Shah led country into serious debt
  • Iranians upset over shah’s lavish lifestyle look for change that would be initiated by bankers and businessmen
constitutional revolution
Constitutional Revolution
  • Constitution of 1906
    • Elections
    • Separation of Powers
    • Laws made by an elected legislature
    • Popular sovereignty
    • Bill of Rights guaranteeing citizen equality, protection of the accused, and freedom of expression
    • Majlis & Guardian Council created
    • Shi’ism becomes official state religion
pahlavis 1925 1979
Pahlavis (1925-1979)
  • By early 1920’s Iran in political and economic disarray
  • Majlis divided by quarreling factions
  • Iran divided into three parts after WWI with Russia and Great Britain each occupying a third of the country
  • Cossack Brigade of the Qajar’s led by Colonel Reza Khan carries out coup d’etat in 1921 and claims himself shah-in-shah in 1925 establishing the Pahlavi dynasty
pahlavi s continued
Pahlavi’s continued
  • Authoritarian rule reestablished in Iran
  • Majlis loses its power
  • Reza Shah passes power to his son, Muhammad Reza Shah in 1941
  • Democratic experiment of 1906 constitution not forgotten, shah challenged domestically
    • Tudeh Party (communists)
    • National Front (nationalists) Muhammad Mossadeq
  • Mossadeq overthrown by CIA in 1953, Shah reinstated
pahlavi oil the rent seeking state
Pahlavi - OIL & the Rent-seeking state
  • Iran transformed into rent-seeking state under Pahlavi’s because of increasing income from oil
    • Rentier Economy: heavily supported by state expenditure, while the state receives “rents” from other countries
  • Iran received increasing revenue from exporting oil and leasing oil fields to foreign countries
  • Although shah promoted import substitution policies by 1979 oil & associated industries provided 97% of foreign exchange and majority of Iran’s GNP
  • Oil revenue became so great government did not have to rely on internal taxes to generate income, paid expenses from oil profits
    • The people become unnecessary to the government in a rentier state
pahlavi influence
Pahlavi Influence
  • Centralized State
    • State banks
    • National radio/TV networks
    • National Iranian Oil Company (NOIC)
    • Central Bureaucracy controlled local governments
    • Majlis became “rubber-stamp” legislature
    • Secularization in judicial branch (European-style judicial system)
    • “White Revolution”
  • Armed forces 5th largest in world by 1979
  • Patronage – shah’s boost personal wealth by seizing property and establishing tax-exempt Pahlavi Foundation that controlled large companies and fed their wealth
  • Muhammad Reza Shah formed Resurgence Party, claimed Iran was one-party state, named himself head
pahlavi white revolution
Pahlavi – “White Revolution”
  • “White” to counter influence of “red” communists
  • Land reform – government bought land from large absentee owners and sold it to farmers at affordable prices
  • Encourage agricultural entrepreneurship with irrigation canals, dams, & tractors
  • Women’s rights (secularization)
    • Suffrage
    • Restricting Polygamy
    • Women allowed to work outside the home
islamic revolution the republic 1979 present
Islamic Revolution & the Republic (1979-present)
  • Dominant ideology of Iranian revolution: Religion
    • Leader a cleric (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini)
    • Theocracy established
    • Fundamental Islam
  • Causes
    • Shah perceived as being totalitarian
    • Balance between secular and religious state ruptured
    • Ties with US and the Western world
khomeini fundamentalism revolution
Khomeini, Fundamentalism, & Revolution
  • Islamic Fundamentalism
    • Literal interpretation of Islamic texts
    • Social conservatism
    • Political traditionalism
  • Resentment towards elites, US, and the Western world
    • US was the “Great Satan”
  • Velayat-e faqih (jurist’s guardianship)
    • Senior clergy given authority over entire Shi’ia community
  • Oil prices decrease about 10% in late 70s
  • Consumer prices in Iran increase about 20% at the same time
  • “Revolution of Rising Expectations” – revolutions occur when people are doing better than they once were and a set back occurs
  • US puts pressure on shat to loosen restrictions on civil society, in particular restraints on political opposition
  • Once restrictions were eased many groups join the revolt (students, teachers, labor groups, oil workers, merchants, and professional associations)
revolution ii
Revolution II
  • 1978
    • Unarmed demonstrators killed in central square Tehran
    • Oil workers go on strike
    • Anti-regime rallies attract 2 million participants
  • Rallies organized and led by clerics
  • Shah flees the country in February 1979
  • Khomeini returns to Iran from exile in Paris
islamic republic
Islamic Republic
  • April 1979 referendum held, Iranians officially vote out the shah, Islamic Republic established
  • Assembly of Religious Experts – 73 clerics elected by the people draft a new constitution in 1979
  • US-Iranian hostage crisis on-going during vote to ratify constitution
  • 99% of electorate vote to endorse constitution although only 75% of eligible voters cast votes
khomeini the islamic republic
Khomeini & the Islamic Republic
  • Clerics consolidate power
  • Popular support for regime high
    • World oil prices rise again, allowing for social programs, improvements in medicine & housing
    • Iraq invades Iran, people rally around the government
    • Charisma of Khomeini inspired faith in the government
  • Khomeini dies in 1989, constitution amended
    • Ali Khamenei succeeds Khomeini, does not have the same political charisma as the Ayatollah
    • Iran/Iraq war ends in 1988, country war-torn
    • Oil prices drop in 1990’s
    • Population begins to question authoritarian rule of the clerics
constitution of 1979
Constitution of 1979
  • Document & 40 Amendments (Some added in 1989)
  • Mixture of theocracy and democracy
  • Preamble reflects importance of religion
  • Velayat-e faqih (Jurist’s guardianship)
  • Gave broad authority to Khomeini and the clerics
political cleavages
Political Cleavages
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Social Class
  • Reformers vs. Conservatives
  • 89% of Iranians are Shi’a Muslims
  • 10% are Sunni Muslim
    • The constitution does not mention Sunni’s and their legal status is therefore unknown
  • 1% are combination of Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Baha’i
    • Constitution recognizes rights of religious minorities, many religious minorities have left country since Islamic Revolution
    • Baha’i considered unholy offshoot of Islam and they have been persecuted by Shi’ite governments.
    • Baha’i leaders have been executed, imprisoned, tortured, their schools closed and property confiscated
  • 51% Persian (speak Farsi)
  • 24% Azeri
    • Live mostly in the northwest close to Azerbaijan, this causes tension with Iranian government worried that Azeri may want to unite part of Iranian territory with Azerbaijan
    • Azeri do not speak Farsi, but they are mostly Shi’ite, Ali Khameini was Azeri
  • 8% Gilaki & Mazandarani
  • 7% Kurds
    • Predominantly Sunni
  • 3% Arabic
    • Predominantly Sunni
social class
Social Class
  • Peasantry and middle class support Islamic regime
    • Benefited from government social programs.
      • Provided electricity & paved roads
    • Middle & Upper-middle class largely secularized
      • Critical of clerics
      • Have not fared well economically under the Republic this reinforces their cultural and political views
political culture
Political Culture
  • Authoritarianism (not totalitarianism) – leaders claim to be all powerful, but do not interfere with every aspect of the citizens lives
  • Union of political & religious authority
  • Shi’ism & Sharia – key components of everyday life
  • Escape from European Colonialism
  • Geographic Limitations – limited arable land forced expansion through military conquest, population of Iran unevenly distributed in cities and northwestern part of country
  • Influence of Ancient Persia
political culture1
Political Culture
  • Shi’ism unifying thread to political culture
  • Multi-faceted political culture:
    • Authoritarianism
    • Union of political and religious authority
    • Shi’ism and shari’a central components
    • No European colonization
    • Geographic limitations
    • Influence of ancient Persia
protests and demonstrations
Protests and Demonstrations
  • College campus active in protests
    • 1999 – gov’t shut down reformist newspaper
    • 2002 – death sentence for reformist academic
    • 2003 – student demonstrations over privatization of university system
  • Today: concerns from workers like high unemployment, low wages, labor laws
women in iran
Women in Iran
  • Women have better access to education
  • Women often considered wards of their male relatives
  • Today: college students and professionals
  • Islamic Republic policy is “equality-with- difference”
  • Women not well represented in the Majles
legitimacy of modern state
Legitimacy of Modern State
  • Revolution of 1979
    • Legitimacy attached to principles of Shi’ism
    • Constitution of 1979
      • Amended in 1989
women the political system
Women & the Political System
  • Treatment of women in Iran is probably more contentious for Westerners than the majority of Iranian women
  • When shari’a law is interpreted narrowly women are considered wards of their male relatives
  • “Equality-with-difference” policy – instituted by the Islamic Republic slants law favorably towards men on issues such as divorce and custody
    • Women must wear scarves and long coats in public
    • Women can not leave country without consent of male relatives
    • Occasionally women stoned for committing adultery
  • Women allowed to get education in Iran and entrance into some occupations
    • Expectations for better jobs and increased political rights among educated women
    • Half of college students in Iran are women
    • Women make up 27% of the labor force