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Prof. Brain Platt
History of the 1979 Iranian Revolution (BBC Documentary)
In 1979, the world witnessed the first religious revolution in the modern history
against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Iranian Shah. The Iranian Revolution is a great
example that demonstrates the power of religion and its strong impact on people. Shia
clergies, from the beginning of the Shah regime, were opposed the system of the
Iranian government that was westernizing Iran, the action that conservative Shias
considered it as a violent of Islamic teachings according to their perspective.
The Shah did not regard the demographic issues that led to his fall. In spite of
the fact that is Iran is a very religious realm that has a majority of Shia in the Islamic
world, he was well-known as a secularist leader that segregated the role of religion from
the government. His relationships with the western world showed his view of his country
as a State that valued democracy and liberty, and determination to follow the foot-steps
of the First-world countries. The gap between the Shah and his people obviously was
getting wider and wider as he was showing an animosity toward Iranian religious
leaders such as Ayatrollahal-Khomeini that had a great popularity among Iranians.
Because the Shah knew the impact of religion, he started presenting his faith through
television interviews and recorded visits to mosques and religious spots in Iran to revise
his negative reputation. The attempts of the Shah to stabilize his government did not
succeed, eventually, he decided to leave the country in January 16,1979.
Nowadays, the impact of Shia teachings still have a crucial part in the Iranians
life. Iran passes their political agenda by spread Shiism in the Islamic world, thousands
of Sunnies convert to Shiism every year in Africa, South East Asia and Europe.
According to Dr. Abdullah Al Nafisi, who got his PHD degree in Iranian affairs from
Cambridge university, indicates that most of those converters get recruited and have
military trainings that are funded directly from the Iranian government.
All in all, the Shah failed to accomplish his ambition of making Iran an advanced
by enforcing secular lifestyle in a religious society. Despite of poverty and
economic corruption in the new Iran, it succeeds to use Shiism as a tool to make the
Iranian dream real. The expansion of the Iranian dream of dominating the Middle East
shows the power of religion and its significant role in politics.
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