The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle by Fakhreddin Azimi

By Fakhreddin Azimi

The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 introduced Iran as a pioneer in a broad-based circulation to set up democratic rule within the non-Western international. In a publication that gives crucial context for knowing smooth Iran, Fakhreddin Azimi strains a century of fight for the institution of consultant government.

The promise of constitutional rule was once lower brief within the Nineteen Twenties with the increase of the Pahlavi dynasty. Reza Shah, whose despotic rule Azimi deftly captures, maintained the façade of a constitutional monarch yet greeted any problem with an iron fist: “I will get rid of you,” he sometimes barked at his officers. In 1941, petrified of wasting keep an eye on of the oil-rich quarter, the Allies pressured Reza Shah to abdicate yet allowed Mohammad Reza to be successful his father. notwithstanding promising to abide via the structure, the hot Shah neglected no chance to undermine it.

The Anglo-American–backed coup of 1953, which ousted reformist ideal Mohammed Mosaddeq, dealt a blow to the constitutionalists. The Shah’s repressive rules and subservience to the U.S. radicalized either secular and non secular rivals, resulting in the revolution of 1979. Azimi argues that we have got essentially misunderstood this occasion through characterizing it as an “Islamic” revolution while it used to be in fact the expression of a long-repressed wish for well known sovereignty. This explains why the clerical rulers have did not counter the growing to be public conviction that the Islamic Republic, too, is impervious to political reform―and why the democratic impulse that all started with the Constitutional Revolution remains to be a powerful and resilient force.

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The rise of Babism, a messianic religious movement with roots in esoteric Shi’ite teachings and strong overtones of social protest, was viewed by the clerics with particular alarm. Founded in the 1840s by Sayyed AliMohammad Shirazi (1819–1850), who assumed the title Bab (the “gateway” to the Hidden Imam), Babism challenged or threatened both the Shi’ite establishment and the Qajar state. Bab was tried and executed for heresy, as he had violated a fundamental Islamic tenet that the prophet Mohammad was the last of God’s messengers.

How was a system of checks and balances or institutionalized legal restraints that could avoid stalemate and paralysis to be established? How was a structurally secure and authoritative state, committed to the promised rights and liberties of citizens, to be constitutionally created and sustained? The Constitution itself offered little help in addressing or overcoming these and similar problems bedeviling the nascent Iranian movement toward constitutionalism. Its ardent proponents perceived it as marking a rupture with the past and ushering in a new era: in place of subjects with mere duties and obligations, citizens with rights and entitlements would exercise sovereignty through their elected representatives in the parliament, which would serve as the chief locus of the constitutional polity.

The two powers also used various inducements to cultivate political figures, acquire clients, and recruit agents and informers in the 28 Constituting a National Community capital. Anglophiles and russophiles constituted powerful segments of the political elite. Russian and British influence and meddling in Iranian affairs increased local impediments to change but also created new incentives for it. Exploiting Anglo-Russian rivalry enabled Iran to escape formal colonization and maintain nominal sovereignty.

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