Iranian Revolution

1509 words 7 pages
Evaluate the role of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1979 Iranian revolution (1200)

Various factors influenced the 1979 Iranian revolution, but at the core of this significant event was Islamic fundamentalism. The Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, led this movement to end the thirty-seven-year reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, also known as the Shah of Iran (Diller 1991, p.152). The revolution was a combination of mounting social, economic, political and religious strains. The nation of Iran was never colonized, unlike some of its bordering countries, making its people intolerant of external influences. The Shah had gradually westernized and secularized his country, creating a strong American presence that was being felt
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Tensions were growing between Iraq and Iran at their border. The Shah looked to his allies, America, for military support. Having just been through the Vietnam War, the threat of communism was still in the air and America was determined to form a strong friendship with an ally in the Middle East. Doing so with Iran, America supplied the nation with all the latest arms and war machines they needed if tensions with Iraq grew further (Fall of Shah, BBC Productions, 2009) This strong military and American presence created by the Shah incensed the people of Iran, letting the coalition grow. Lavish 50th anniversary celebrations of the Pahlavi dynasty held in 1975 particularly infuriated the ulemas (Horrie and Chippindale 2003, p.211). These celebrations clashed with Islamic religious festivals (Sanders 1990, p. 15). The ulemas anger peaked with parades that were glorifying ancient Persian Pagan gods, as well as the Shah partaking in binge drinking with prominent western figures (Fall of Shah, BBC Productions, 2009). The lavish parade held by the Shah displayed to the world a sense of wealth and prosperity, but it was know to the poor of Iran that this wealth and prosperity was only seen in the upper class (Fall of Shah, BBC Productions, 2009). The people of Iran saw Islamic fundamentalism, as the only route as a means of dethroning the mighty Shah.

The Shahs rule by oppression meant any


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