The two faces of modernity in Iran - analysis _ World news _ The Guardian - The two faces of modernity in Iran analysis | World news | The Guardian The

The two faces of modernity in Iran - analysis _ World news _ The Guardian

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The two faces of modernity in Iran - analysis How the 1979 revolution and eight-year war with Iraq modernised the country Farzin Vahdat for Tehran Bureau Tuesday 9 December 2014 04.39 EST It is often thought that what is currently taking place in Iran, the continuation of what has unfolded there over the past three 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 the victory of the Islamists in the revolution of 1979, most of the modernising efforts and institutions of the 55-year-old Pahlavi dynasty were either abandoned or completely reversed. Some of the most visible of these institutions pertained to women. During the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah, the state had taken some positive steps regarding the status and welfare of women. Some of the most flagrant institutionalised forms of discrimination and abuse were curbed, if not abolished, through the curtailing of arbitrary divorce by men, the institution of more women-friendly custody laws, and the restriction of polygyny. With the establishment of the Islamic republic, most of the provisions of the Pahlavi era’s Family Protection Law were abandoned. Personal freedoms, which before the revolution were more or less tolerated, came under severe attack by the revolutionaries. Women were forced to don the hijab, and any form of resistance to the closely monitored dress codes for both men and women was met with harsh punishment, including public flogging. Ancient retribution laws that entailed the 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 blow under the Islamic republic. Adherents of the Baha’i faith, for example, came under savage attack by the government and zealots soon after the revolution. Some 200 to 300 Baha’is were killed merely because they were not willing to recant their faith. Many more received long prison sentences. The property of thousands of Baha’is was confiscated and their children were deprived of education, especially of access to higher education. Even today many members of the Baha’i Faith face gross discrimination and many of their leaders are serving long prison sentences. After the brutal repression of the 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 and negated some of what we take to be the most important aspects of modernity. Yet, modernity is complex. Under closer analysis, it could become evident that what has been taking place in Iran over the past three decades might very well be the initial phases of modernity, whose emergence has often been Janus-faced in other parts of the world. The notion of
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  • Fall '14
  • IanLustick
  • Comparative Politics, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Pahlavi dynasty, middle classes

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