Iran is one of the most powerful and influential nations in the Middle East. As the cradle of Shia Islam, the country has seen much suffering and war in its attempt to Islamize the nation. Now, as an Islamic Republic, Iran continues to lead the region in modern technologies – but has retained its strong Muslim identity. The country is also home to a diverse population – with respect for all religions and races.
While Iran is now more modern than ever – it was no different during the time of Reza Shah Pahlevi. The Shah – who was supported by the US and backed up by foreign interests – was committed to Westernizing Iran and securing its place in the world. As part of this campaign, the country was transformed into a mirror of the West –with tree lined streets, fine restaurants, cinemas and even nightclubs.
From Tehran to other leading cities, the Westernization of Iran brought much commerce and growth. The problem, however, was between the differing ideologies of the people – and especially opponents of the Shah and his pro-Western regime. There were mass protests on the part of the people to rid the nation of Western influence, and restore it back to its Islamic and Shia roots.
Sadly, the protests lead to several crackdowns by the government, resulting in much suffering and countless lives being lost. While the Shah was adamant about securing his reign over the heart of the Persian Empire – the will of the people was simply too much for him to bear.
The culmination of the riots and protesting finally led to the Shah’s overthrow in 1979. With the Shah now in exile, pro and anti-Shah forces continued to battle for control of Tehran and the country as a whole. It would take national elections in April of ’79 to finally determine Iran’s new government – which was led by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.
Even with Iran as an Islamic Republic, many citizens still had sentimental connections to the old government. They also fondly remembered the Western aspects that were integrated into their societies – including modern homes, offices, shopping venues, and so much more.
Images via: All That Is Interesting