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The two faces of modernity in Iran - analysisHow the 1979 revolution and eight-year war with Iraq modernised the countryFarzin Vahdat for Tehran BureauTuesday 9 December 2014 04.39 ESTIt is often thought that what is currently taking place in Iran, the continuation of what has unfolded there over the pastthree decades - violation of human rights, systematic discrimination against women, and belligerence toward the west -constitutes a rejection of modernity and its fruits. There are many reasons to find this view plausible. Soon after thevictory of the Islamists in the revolution of 1979, most of the modernising efforts and institutions of the 55-year-oldPahlavi dynasty were either abandoned or completely reversed. Some of the most visible of these institutions pertainedto women. During the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah, the state had taken some positive steps regarding the status andwelfare of women. Some of the most ﬂagrant institutionalised forms of discrimination and abuse were curbed, if notabolished, through the curtailing of arbitrary divorce by men, the institution of more women-friendly custody laws, andthe restriction of polygyny.With the establishment of the Islamic republic, most of the provisions of the Pahlavi era’s Family Protection Law wereabandoned. Personal freedoms, which before the revolution were more or less tolerated, came under severe attack by therevolutionaries. Women were forced to don the hijab, and any form of resistance to the closely monitored dress codes forboth men and women was met with harsh punishment, including public ﬂogging. Ancient retribution laws that entailedthe cutting off of thieves’ hands and the stoning of adulterers - which, in fact, had rarely been performed in medieval Iran- were enforced in many parts of the country.Human rights, including freedom of belief, among the fundamental features of the modern world, received a fatal blowunder the Islamic republic. Adherents of the Baha’i faith, for example, came under savage attack by the government andzealots soon after the revolution. Some 200 to 300 Baha’is were killed merely because they were not willing to recanttheir faith. Many more received long prison sentences. The property of thousands of Baha’is was confiscated and theirchildren were deprived of education, especially of access to higher education. Even today many members of the Baha’iFaith face gross discrimination and many of their leaders are serving long prison sentences. After the brutal repression ofthe Green Movement, many more journalists, lawyers and civil society activists are in jail or under house arrest.There is no doubt that the revolution and the Islamic republic that was established in its wake militated against andnegated some of what we take to be the most important aspects of modernity. Yet, modernity is complex. Under closeranalysis, it could become evident that what has been taking place in Iran over the past three decades might very well bethe initial phases of modernity, whose emergence has often been Janus-faced in other parts of the world. The notion of