The harsh light on Iran's Islamic Revolution




  • In World
  • 2019-02-11 20:34:49Z
  • By the Monitor's Editorial Board

On Monday, Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which overthrew a monarchy and put in its place absolute rule by a Muslim cleric. That model of governance, however, was not a big part of the celebrations, and for good reason. Many Muslims inside and outside Iran have shown they prefer a strong say in who rules their societies.

Popular demand for accountable government was not expected when the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a religious Shiite scholar, assumed power in 1979. At the heart of the revolution was his notion that all affairs of state should be subject to one Islamic leader, starting with him. He also chose his successor, the current ruler, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"I hope that [Iran] will become a model for all the meek and Muslim nations in the world," Ayatollah Khomeini said in 1980. Now, four decades later, the model known as "guardianship of the jurist" still holds sway in Iran but only through ruthless force and mass imprisonment. It is openly challenged by protesters, political dissidents, and prominent clerics who insist on equality of citizenship. And it is almost universally rejected in the rest of the Middle East.

Recommended: The Monitor's View Reading liberty in Tehran

Even the Islamic State, crushed in Iraq and Syria, cheered on demonstrations against the Tehran regime in late 2017 and early 2018. Thousands of Iranians, angered by worsening economic conditions, went to the streets chanting, "We don't want an Islamic republic" and "Clerics! Get lost."

The Iranian revolution has accomplished much. It expanded education, especially for girls. And it freed Iran of entanglement with big powers. But the ruling mullahs have driven the economy into negative growth. Their policies have forced many Iranians to go abroad for freedom or opportunities. And even as it tries to keep the facade of a nominal democracy, the regime has suppressed dissent, such as a violent crackdown on mass protests in 2009 as well as in cyberspace.

Neighboring countries, especially those with large populations of Shiite Muslims, have also rebelled against Iran's attempt to export its governing model. Last May in a free election, Iraq voters preferred parties that oppose Iran's influence. In the Arab Spring of 2011, the majority Shiites in Bahrain were protesting for democracy, not clerical rule. In Lebanon, the powerful and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia is wary of alienating the country's diverse ethnic and religious groups. Only in Syria does Iran hold some power. But that country's leader, Bashar al-Assad, rules like a regular dictator, not one who claims divine authority.

Iran's theocracy was set up on the premise that the revolution would perish unless it expanded beyond its borders. It has not expanded in large part because many popular Shiite clerics, such as Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, reject the idea of clerics running secular government. Many of Iran's most famous prisoners have been once-prominent clerics who championed separation of mosque and state.

Most all Muslims cherish freedom of conscience and rule of law for their mixed societies. Many in the Middle East not yet have such liberties. But they, not Iran's revolutionary model, are worth celebrating.

Read this story at csmonitor.com

Become a part of the Monitor community

COMMENTS

More Related News

'Uranium particles' detected at undeclared site in Iran: IAEA
  • World
  • 2019-11-11 18:32:04Z

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has detected uranium particles at an undeclared site in Iran, it said in its latest report on the country's nuclear programme on Monday. The particles are understood to be the product of uranium which has been mined and undergone initial processing, but not enriched. While the IAEA itself has not named the site in question, diplomatic sources have previously said the agency has been posing questions to Iran relating to a site where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past.

Iran, Russia launch new phase of nuclear power reactor construction
Iran, Russia launch new phase of nuclear power reactor construction
  • World
  • 2019-11-10 17:42:47Z

Tehran and Moscow inaugurated on Sunday a new phase of construction for a second reactor at Iran's sole nuclear power plant in Bushehr on the Gulf coast. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), and deputy chief of Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom, Alexander Lokshin, launched the new stage at a ceremony where concrete was poured for the reactor base.

Iran announces discovery of massive oil field
Iran announces discovery of massive oil field

Iran has discovered a massive new oil field, President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday, a find that would boost its proven reserves by about a third in a rare piece of "good news" for an economy battered by US sanctions. In a speech aired on state TV, Rouhani said the country's economy had stabilised despite punishing US measures against its senior leaders, banking and finance sectors. The vast field in the southwestern province of Khuzestan holds an estimated 53 billion barrels of crude, he said.

Iran says case open on ex-FBI agent missing there on CIA job
Iran says case open on ex-FBI agent missing there on CIA job
  • World
  • 2019-11-09 08:47:16Z

Iran is acknowledging for the first time it has an open case before its Revolutionary Court over the 2007 disappearance of a former FBI agent on an unauthorized CIA mission to the country, renewing questions over what happened to him. In a filing to the United Nations, Iran said the case over Robert Levinson was "on going," without elaborating.

Pompeo slams Iran
Pompeo slams Iran 'intimidation' of IAEA inspector as 'outrageous'
  • World
  • 2019-11-09 02:18:51Z

The top US diplomat said Iran "detained" the inspector, who the International Atomic Energy Agency has said had been briefly prevented from leaving Iran. Iran said Thursday it had cancelled the inspector's accreditation after she triggered an alarm last week at the entrance to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. The alarm during a check at the entrance to the plant in central Iran had raised concerns that she could be carrying a "suspect product" on her, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said in a statement posted online.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World