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Historical Development of Iranian Political Culture

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Presentation on theme: "Historical Development of Iranian Political Culture"— Presentation transcript:

1 Historical Development of Iranian Political Culture

2 Geography of Iran Iran is located in the Middle East
Large regions of Iran are unusable or unsuitable Population centered in the northeast Forced early Iranians to look outward (expansion & conquest) Oil has become a very important natural resource in the development of Iran Iran is roughly the size of Alaska…but cannot be seen from anyone’s house

3 Uniqueness of Iran (1) Persian vs. Arab
Iranians are ethnically Persian not Arab. Although heavily influenced by Arabs who brought Islam to Iran, still to today the Persian roots of Iran separate it from the rest of the Arab world. Arab League Member Nations in Green Iran is in orange – not a member of the Arab League

4 Uniqueness of Iran (2) Islam - Shiite vs. Sunni
Islam was brought to Iran in the 7th century C.E. Iranians (90%) are Shiite (followers of Shia Islam) Only about 10% of Muslims are Shia Muslims Shiites believe that Muhammad’s descendants known as “Imams” have special spiritual and political authority. Most Shiites live in Iran & Iraq and make up a majority of the population of those countries

5 Uniqueness of Iran (3) Theocracy vs. Secularization
Theocracy – a government ruled strictly by religion Secularization – the belief that religion and government should be separated. Iranian history shows an ebb and flow between theocratic and secular rule. The only AP GAP country that is currently ruled as a theocracy.

6 Development of Iranian Political Culture
Ancient Persia (550 B.C.E. – 330 B.C.E.) Greek & Islamic Era (330 B.C.E. – 1501 C.E.) Safavids (1501 C.E. – 1722 C.E.) Qajars (1794 C.E. – 1925 C.E.) Pahlavis (1925 C.E. – 1979 C.E.) Iranian Revolution (1979 C.E.) Islamic Republic of Iran (1979 C.E. – Present)

7 Political History of Iran
(1) Persian Empire (550 B.C. – 330 B.C.) First large empire in world history The Persians fought against the Greeks and were defeated by Alexander the Great (West vs. East) Cyrus the Great ( B.C.) 1st Persian Emperor

8 Political History of Iran
(2) Greek & Islamic Era (330 B.C.E. – 1501 C.E.) Alexander the Great brought the Hellenistic Civilization to the former Persian Empire In the middle of the 7th century Arab Muslims conquerored Iran and brought Islam (Shia) with them. Nike of Samothrace

9 Political History of Iran
(3) Safavids (1501 C.E. – 1722 C.E.) 1st Iranian ruled government since the Persian Empire Shah (monarchy) headed government. Safavids claimed to be descendants of the 12th Imam (Shia) Practiced religious toleration of Sunnis & “People of the Book” (i.e. Jews & Christians) Safavids Dynasty ended in 1722 when they were invaded by Afghan tribesmen. Ismail I – founder of the Safavid Dynasty

10 Political History of Iran
(4) Qajars (1794 C.E. – 1925 C.E.) Qajars a Turkish people gain control over Iran Capital city of Tehran Retain Shia Islam as official religion Couldn’t claim to be decedents of Imams, so Shiite clerics became main interpreters of Islam Widening the separation of religion and government Eventually Iranians became unhappy with government debt, lavish court costs, and foreign (western) influence. Constitutional Revolution ( ) Iranians demanded greater influence in government & a ‘cleansing of leadership’ Ahmad Shah Qajar

11 Political History of Iran
Constitution of 1906 Direct Elections Monarchy with a separation of powers Laws made by a powerful elected legislature Popular sovereignty Bill of Rights Shia continued to be the official religion Only Shiites could hold cabinet positions Guardian Council – Shiite clerics who could veto any legislation.

12 Political History of Iran
(5) Pahlavis (1925 C.E. – 1979 C.E.) WWI further weakened the Qajars 1921 Reza Khan led a coup d'état and proclaimed himself shah Reza Khan – commander of the Cossack Brigade; Shah of Iran ( )

13 Political History of Iran
Unpopular Pahlavi Shahs 1. Totalitarian, not just Authoritarian Rule Controlled the banks, media, more sectors of the economy, etc. Democratic thoughts were not forgotten – Pahlavi Shahs were challenged by communist & nationalist political movements.

14 Political History of Iran
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Emperor of Iran ( ) Unpopular Pahlavi Shahs 2. Ties to the West Pahlavi leaders were very close with Western nations Ex.) In 1951 Pahalvi Shah fled Iran due to popular support of a rival nationalist/communist movement, however the US & UK helped to re-install the Pahalvi Shah back to power. Many Iranians saw Pahlavis as pawns to the West Rentier State – states which derive all/substantial portion of their national revenue from the ‘rent’ of natural resources to external clients. i.e. Oil to the West , 97% of Iranian exports

15 Political History of Iran
Unpopular Pahlavi Shahs 3. Iran became too Secularized White Revolution – further secularized Iran; pro-Western Seen as a counter to Communist/Red influences Ex.) Extended voting rights to women, allowed women to work outside the home, restricted polygamy Above: Iranian women in traditional Islamic burkas Right: Pahlavi shah appears very ‘Western’

16 Political History of Iran
Division Within Iran Pahlavi Side Supports modernization Secularization Closer ties to the West Traditional/Shia Ways Ayatollah Khomeini charismatic vocal critic of the shah

17 Political History of Iran
Division Within Iran Traditional/Shia Ways Ayatollah Khomeini Preached Islamic fundamentalism Resented elite & the United States Supported Jurist Guardianship – senior Shia clergy having authority over the entire Shia community

18 Political History of Iran
(6) Iranian Revolution (1979) “The Spark” Revolution of Rising Expectations – a political theory that says revolutions are most likely to occur when people are doing better than they once were, but then some type of set back occurs Ex.) Late 1970s oil prices drop by 10%, while Iranian consumer prices increase by 20%

19 Political History of Iran
Revolution of Rising Expectations Theory

20 Political History of Iran
(7) Islamic Republic of Iran (1979 C.E. – Present) On February 11, 1979 the shah flees Iran April 1979 a national referendum votes out the shah and establishes the Islamic Republic Cultural Revolution – aimed to purify the country of the shah’s regime, secular values, & western influence.



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