Foundations for Religious Reform in the First Pahlavi Era

This article was published in Iran Namag Volume 30, Number 3, 2015.


War, occupation, and famine in the aftermath of World War I pushed aside lofty constitutional debates about democracy and civil liberties that had begun in 1906. As Nikki Keddie has argued, the central government in Tehran weakened and tribal chiefs and landlords reasserted their power. Also, inspired by the events in the north and the emergence of the Soviet Union, a variety of autonomous movements emerged in the country. In response, Britain encouraged a coup led by Reza Khan and Seyyed Zia al-Din that could bring about a strong central government, one that was capable of suppressing “leftist or autonomous movement.” Constitutional monarchy came to a halt soon after Reza Shah Pahlavi (r.1925-41) established the Pahlavi monarchy in 1925 and expanded his prerogative through military control. By the early 1930s, Reza Shah had subverted the democratic process and dramatically reduced the constitutional authority of the Parliament. Ministers and MPs relinquished many of their constitutionally allocated rights, while the shah gained greater authority.

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