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Presentation on theme: "STUDENT NOTES 1 CH. 7 THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN."— Presentation transcript:


2 Islamic Republic of Iran created by Revolution of 1979 (1) first religious revolution in modern history (2) culminated in rapid downfall of a powerful, long-standing autocratic regime (monarchies led by Shah – same as a king) (3) used religion as the primary agency of political mobilization (4) establishment of a theocracy in late 20 th century, infused with strong democratic elements Blending of theocratic and democratic features in Iran’s constitution – split legitimacy – recognizes principles of popular sovereignty and separation of powers – but, legitimacy also rests on conformity to a revealed body of religious law

3 Overview: The Big Picture System of Government: Mixed Theocratic- Presidential System Distribution of Power: Unitary System Electoral System: weird… Constitution: Constitution of 1979 (formerly1906) Legislature: Unicameral—Majles (Parliament, no PM) Current Head of State: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader Head of Government: Hassan Rouhani, President Major Political Parties: NO INSTITUTIONALIZED PARTY SYSTEM – Political factions: “conservatives”, “pragmatists”, and “radicals”

4 Country Bio: Iran Population: – 76 million Territory: – 636,296 sq. miles Year of Independence : – 550 B.C. Year of Current Constitution : – 1979, amended in 1989 Language: – Persian, regional languages Religion: – Twelver Shiite Muslim 90%, Sunni Muslim 10%, non-Muslims less than 1%

5 IRAN’S “THEOCRACY” Sovereignty rests with GOD alone – Therefore, laws of God take precedence over laws of man – BUT – There are elements of God’s sovereignty AND popular sovereignty in Iran – WHY? History, that’s why Current Iranian state set up by Safavid dynasty in early 16 th century – Made Twelver Shiism official state religion – followers of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants aka Imams (political and religious leader) and ONLY the TWELFTH IMAM has LEGITIMATE rule over followers – Ulema (religious scholars) decided secular rulers were okay as long as they ruled in accordance w/ Islam

6 Sovereignty, Authority, and Power Constitutional Revolution (1905-1909) Constitution of 1906 – BIG PICTURE: 1) reflect European democracies – Westernized GOVERNMENT NOT SOCIETY 2) “rule by the people” more acceptable than Shah – Direct elections – Separation of powers – Laws made by elected legislature Very strong – controlled cabinet members – Popular sovereignty – Bill of Rights – Retained Shiism as official religion

7 Sovereignty, Authority, and Power 1921 - Reza Shah carried out coup d’etat – 4 years later named himself “shah-in-shah” (king of kings) – Constitution formally in place but NOT recognized – Changed name from Persia to Iran 1941-1953 limbo government Muhammad Reza Shah – formed SAVAK: secret police – authoritarian regime Rise of the National Front (opposition) – Led by Muhammad Mosaddeq – Drew support from middle class – Emphasized Iranian nationalism

8 Sovereignty, Authority, and Power Mosaddeq advocated nationalizing the British owned-company that monopolized Iran’s oil business – Also wanted to take armed forces out from under shah’s control Elected Prime Minister in 1951 – Power grew & forced shah to flee country in 1953 British and U.S. (CIA) orchestrated overthrow of Mosaddeq & restored shah to power…hmmm, I wonder why? Political culture of Iran – EVERYTHING IS BLAMED ON A PLOT BY THE WEST

9 Sovereignty, Authority, and Power The Shah’s Downfall: – Became more distant from people over the years – Became very wealthy – Ignored civil liberties – Stifled newspapers, political parties, and professional associations By driving opponents underground he strengthened their cause and willingness to overthrow regime – Alienated clergy, intelligentsia, and urbanites Ruhollah Khomeini arrested and exiled for political protest in 1963…returned in 1979 as revolutionary leader/most powerful person in Iran Overstepped bounds of political culture: – Perceived as being totalitarian – Secularized too fast – Undermined traditional relationship b/t clergy and Shahs

10 Sovereignty, Authority, and Power 1979 REVOLUTION Causes – Shah perceived as being totalitarian – Iran too secular, too tied to West Made religion a political force w/ goal of creating an ideal Islamic state – Struggling economy Effects – Theocracy established – Sharia law – Fundamental Islam Charismatic leader – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Shah fled country in Feb 1979

11 Who and Why? Iranian Revolutions – Who? Middle Class Urban Revolution! Coalition of intellectuals, university and high school students and teachers, bazaar merchants, politically active clerics and seminarians, industrial workers, and finally, state employees and white-collared workers – BIG PICTURE: diverse support for revolution led to current legitimacy issues/policy challenges – Why ? Anti-Shah, Anti-USA Despotism, corruption, and the alliances with the United States and Israel united such diverse ideological factions as liberal adherents to 1906 constitution, Marxist-Leninist leftists and Islamists Sovereignty, Authority, and Power

12 Islamic Revolution 1979 – Motivated by religion: traditionalists v. modernists – Leader: Ayatollah Khomeini Islamic fundamentalism Jurist’s guardianship aka velayat-e faqih – shia term granting supreme authority to clergy b/c in the absence of God they know his teaching’s best w/ some deference to constitutional tradition April 1979 national referendum was held – voted out monarchy established Islamic Republic – Established a new constitution – Ayatollah Khomeini (Supreme Leader)


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