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Iran. Before the Revolution . In 19 th and early 20 th century , Decentralized system of enforcing Shari’a Pahlavi d ynastic rule from 1921—1979, Reza Shah and his son Mohammad Reza Shah

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Before the revolution
Before the Revolution

  • In 19th and early 20thcentury,

    Decentralized system of enforcing Shari’a

  • Pahlavi dynastic rule from 1921—1979,Reza Shah and his son Mohammad Reza Shah

  • Mohammad Musaddiqelected in 1950, but Mohammed Reza Shah put back into power in a 1953 CIA-led coup

  • In 1960s, Mohammad Reza Shah introduced the “White Revolution” land reform, social and economic modernization policies, including secularization measures

1979 revolution
1979 Revolution

  • Iran became the only country directly ruled by clergy

  • Constitution mixed principles of democracy, theocracy, representative government and guardianship of the jurist

  • Khomeini introduced concept of the Viliyat-iFaqih, a system in which senior jurist has primary political power

  • Council of Guardians decides if legislation passed by the majlis (parliament) conforms to Islamic principles, has veto power and can ban candidates from running for political office

  • Zarurat,The Expediency Discernment Council introduced 1988

After the revolution
After the Revolution

  • The ‘cultural revolution’ shut down

    universities to orient them religiously

  • Gender segregation, daily prayers


  • Revolutionary guards on streets to enforce new moral order

  • Bayat–a severe, sober public space, lacking color and spirit

  • Gender gap increased, women and men barred from mixing in public spaces, and women required to dress appropriately— compulsory veiling

  • Daycare and family planning devalued by the government, women more restricted to the home

  • Men automatically to get custody of children in divorce

  • Restricted enrollment of women in universities

  • Attempts to develop an “Islamic economy,” neither capitalist nor socialist

Family courts
Family Courts

  • Suspended the Family Protection Law, reinvented Family Courts.

  • Men were free to divorce their wives at will, while women

    had to have a reason written into the marriage contract,

    meeting certain criteria, to initiate divorce

  • Men gained exclusive custody of children.

  • Restrictions on polygamy and temporary marriage repealed

  • The marriage age for girls was reduced to puberty, which is age nine under Islamic law.

Penal codes
Penal Codes

  • Quickly abolished prerevolutionary

    codes which drew heavily from

    European models

  • Attempted to codify and implement Shari’a

  • 1982 Act of Hudud, Qisas, and other provisions and the Diyat Act passed (fixed punishments, retribution, and compensation)

  • 1983 Ta’azirat Act passed (laws of Discretionary Punishments)

  • Shari’acodification limited the ability of judges to use their own judgment in coming to a decision

Critiques of iranian government
Critiques of Iranian Government

  • Clerical despotism, corruption, faltering economy, suppression of dissent, harsh criminal justice, has led to disillusionment and a rise in anti-clericalism

  • Rise in intellectuals questioning the rule by clerics

  • New dialogue about the meaning of Islamic law from within Iran

  • Many Iranian intellectuals left Iran

  • Paradoxes of Islamic state gave post-Islamist movement some currency with religious scholars

  • Ulama losing independence, as Supreme Leader could impose interpretation on them, overseeing their decisions

Post islamism

  • Movement started following Khomeini’s death in 1989

  • Bayat defines movement as: “a series of remarkable and intellectual movements driven by younger generations, students, women and religious intellectuals, and a new perception of urban space that would shape Iran’s political and social course in the years to come” (Bayat 55).

  • Calls for pluralism, democracy as well as religious ethics

  • By the late 1980s, Islamists had alienated the majority of youth, women and the middle class

  • Redesign of Tehran in 1990s transformed it from former dark image to having cultural centers, parks, and shopping malls

  • Helped to link the once divided North and South

  • Parks, new urban spaces encouraged dialogue and increased citizenry

  • Islamists worried about new urban identity

Youth and student movement
Youth and Student Movement

  • Rise in depression and anxiety following the war with Iraq (1980-1988) as well as a result of increased surveillance following the revolution

  • Call for a “right to happiness”

  • DTV, once a vehicle of the state, becomes more oriented towards democratic ideals

  • Social control of college campuses

  • With 1997 elections, became a mass movement

Women s movement
Women’s Movement

  • Gained momentum in the 1990s

  • Middle class women greatly impacted by Revolution policies –discriminatory education, work quotas

  • During Iran-Iraq war questions over women’s’ role were mostly suppressed, but by late 1980s, but this changed with increased role as economic conditions made it necessary for more women to be in public spaces

  • Challenged patriarchal readings of Qur’an

  • In 2006, launched campaign—“One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws”

Challenges to the women s movement
Challenges to the Women’s Movement

  • Existing laws still reinforce gender inequality

  • The women’s movement is fragmented, not large scale, and doesn’t have common demands and goals

  • Fight for rights on more of an individual basis

  • Bayat calls it a “non-movement”—slowly making progress through their public presence in more arenas, slowly taking steps towards more equal treatment

Movement of religious intellectuals
Movement of Religious Intellectuals

  • Helped to give a coherent voice to social movement, giving it an ideological foundation

  • Challenging orthodox interpretations of sacred texts

  • Emphasis on reason, rights and religion

  • Distinct from Islamist and secular groups of the past

  • Intellectual position supporting emphasis on modernity, critical reasoning, human rights, liberty, human dignity, science and free market economy

  • “republican theology”—ideals of modernity, democracy and religiosity

Political mobilization
Political Mobilization

  • Tried to mobilize various civil society, activist groups in order to translate it into political change

  • Nominated a post-Islamist intellectual to run for president in 1997

  • Mohammad Khatami was elected in 1997 and reformists took control of the parliament in 2000

  • Thought that in this way they could bring about change by “mobilizing from below”—with activism of young, students, women, middle class and “negotiating from the top” new political presence

Reform movement
Reform Movement

  • 1997-2004, diverse social forces with shared goal of ending current system of clerical rule

  • Second of KhurdadFront—group of liberal religious groups as well as secular democrats

    • Coalition of 18 political groups that included professional associations, student organizations, women activist and intellectuals

  • At the heart of movement—the Islamic Participation Front (IPF) and the Organization of the Mujahidin of the Islamic Revolution (OMIR)

  • Included in the IPF: Association of Combatant Clerics, the Students’ DTV, the workers party, other groups

  • But most of reform movement dominated by democratic minded groups wanting to do away with current Vilayat-iFaqih” model

  • Debate within reformist camp about how radical this change should be

During the reformist period
During the Reformist Period

  • Hope that with Khatami winning election, he could lead Iran to a democratic future

  • Some called it a “Second Revolution”

  • Came to office with a promise of bringing about cultural and political reform and empowering civil society

  • Allowed youth to regain a presence in public spaces

  • Student movement grewrapidly

  • Created institutions of civil society to consolidate activism — journalistic associations, employee and workers’ guilds, NGOs

  • Movement to develop a free press

Opposing the reform movement
Opposing the Reform Movement

  • Conservatives warned that the Reform movement posed an “ideological crisis” that posed threat to Islamic system

  • Ideas of religious pluralism, secularization and democracy endangered the moral order

  • Unofficial interpretations of religious texts not authorized

  • Warnings against a Martin Luther protestant movement away from orthodox ideas of who has the right to interpret

  • Some clerics equated disobedience of the clerics to disobeying Imam ‘Ali, and by extension, God

  • For some conservatives, democracy is equal to being controlled by capital, consumerism, and the West

  • Need supreme leader and clergy to keep state within moral boundaries

The counter reform movement
The Counter Reform Movement

  • Like the reform movement, conservative factions held varying political and economic positions, but united in their opposition to reform

  • Society of Combatant Clerics at the heart of it, along with the 27 other groups that make up conservative factions of the majlis

  • Role of the citizen is to support the state, not reform it

  • Also supported by the Ansar-i-Hizbollah—mostly young war veterans, more extremist leanings

  • Islamist elites make up “rentier class”—privilege passed down to offspring

Conservative economic and political privilege
Conservative Economic and Political Privilege

  • “What granted the conservatives formidable power was not only their financial resources, networks of clientelism and control of nonelected state institutions, but that all of this power was safeguarded inside an enclosed political structure that was designed to reproduce its dominance” (Bayat).

  • Economic privilege due to control of religious taxes, donations, and foundations

  • Lack of oversight or control of these funds, often corruption

  • Also control of informal credit associations and unofficial banks that were run out of local mosques

  • Managed to maintain their support due to their control of religious organizations and by providing jobs to supporters

  • System reinforces conservative dominance—more power rests with the Supreme Leader than the President.

  • How could reform movement overcome rules and a system that can easily undermines the movement?

Taking action against the reformists
Taking Action Against the Reformists

  • Vigilante groups would (Pasdaranand Ansar-iHizbullahamong them) disrupt demonstrations, meetings, lectures and rallies and violent actions taken against reformists

  • In 1998, the popular mayor of Tehran (GhulamHusaynKarbaschi) was put on trial for corruption

  • Backlash against reform press began immediately after Khatami was elected

  • In 2000, Khamenei declared that pro-reform journalism dangerous, and permitted the judiciary to shut 14 reformist newspapers and magazines down

  • When parliament tried to amend Iran’s press laws, the Supreme Leader blocked the changes

  • BY 2007, hundreds of intellectuals, activists, and journalists were arrested on anti-religious or anti-state charges

Challenging conservative dominance
Challenging Conservative Dominance

  • Even with a majority in the Parliament, difficult to pass any legislation, as Council of Guardians has veto power—can paralyze parliament

  • Tried to pass a bill so that Council of Guardians wouldn’t screen candidates for Parliament, President, and Assembly of Experts, and so that the President would be able to suspend rulings as unconstitutional, especially those introduced by non-elected bodies

  • Conservative backlash against bill and was overturned by Council of Guardians

  • A judge sentence HashimAghajari—a post-Islamist intellectual to death for apostasy due to his support for “Islamic Protestantism, ” sentence overturned after riots

Decline and legacy of reform movement
Decline and Legacy of Reform Movement

  • Public frustrated with lack of social power of reformists

  • Political apathy by 7thMajlis elections

  • Council of guardians disqualified half of the candidates for parliamentary elections, mostly reformist candidates, but eventually allowed 1/3 of eliminated candidates to run, but many boycotted elections or resigned

  • Political apathy allowed conservatives to win parliamentary elections

  • But reform movement successful in challenging moral and political legitimacy of conservative Islamists, even though it failed to dislodge them from power

  • Language of reform, ideas of Islam and democracy as compatible in Iranian context

  • Ideas of democracy, pluralism, accountability, rule of law, tolerance more pervasive after this period

Why the reform movement failed
Why The Reform Movement Failed

  • Disappointment due to institutional constraints

  • Conservatives state had the power, but lacked popular support while the Reform movement had vast popular support, but its political power was limited by the structure of the state

  • Would have needed to neutralized the Pasdaran, Ansar-iHizbullahand courts in order to be more successful

  • A stronger social base was also needed—not just the middle class, but mobilizing the working classes

  • Didn’t address economic issues enough

  • Unions, workers associations weren’t given much attention, so not truly a grassroots movement

June 2013 elections
June 2013 Elections

  • Hassan Rouhani, moderate cleric elected

  • Many citizens hoped that the new President can“Get Iran out of its malaise, caused not only by a poor economy due to  tough sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Iran that have hurt the lives of tens of millions of Iranians, but also by vast corruption and nepotism during Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration, social and political repression, and international isolation.” (Muhammad Sahimi)

Use of social media in politics
Use of Social Media in Politics

  • Presidential candidates all used twitter, and banned social media in order to reach voters

  • Email, twitter, Facebook have been banned since 2009 elections, and remain closely monitored

  • Government tries to slow internet speeds to limit ability to organize protests, and limit use of social media

  • Social media cost effective, and reaches more people—the young and educated especially

Underground music movement
Underground Music Movement

  • Music Movement since 1970s, but new wave of Iran Rock since 1990s

  • Largely in Farsi rather than English and uniquely Iranian sound

  • Musicians must get permission from the government before they can play a show or release music


  • References

    • Baktiari, Bahman. "Iran: Shari'a Politics and the Transformation of Islamic Law." Trans. Array Shari'aPolitics: Islamic Law and Society in the Modern World. Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana University Press, 2011. 121-145. Print.

    • Bayat, Asef. Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2007. 16-48, 49-135. Print.

    • Juan, Cole. Engaging the Muslim World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 193-236. Print.

    • Ghobadi, Bahman, dir. No One Knows About Persian Cats. IFC Films, 2009. Film. 4 Dec 2013.

    • Leverett, Hillary Mann, and FlyntLeverett. "Rouhani won the Iranian election. Get over it.." Al Jazeera. (2013): n. page. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. < 74.html>.

    • Sahimi, Muhammad. "Make a deal with Rouhani: Iran has hawks too." Al Jazeera. (2013): n. page. Print. < rouhani-iran-has-hawks-too-201392871659386684.html>.

    • Powell, Jacob. "Iran's candidates use forbidden media." (2013): n. page. Print. <>.