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Subject IRAN: The Islamic revolution at 30 - fear, fascination and delusion = failure
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Original Message Fear, fascination, delusion: the legacies of Iranís revolution

[link to www.thenational.ae]
Last Updated: February 04. 2009 9:30AM UAE / February 4.2009 5:30AM GMT

Thirty years ago this week, a frail 77-year old cleric landed in Tehran, where he was welcomed by millions of enthusiastic Iranians. His revolutionary ideas about Islamís place in political life and role in the world would soon transform his country into a bastion of Islamic radicalism.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sits today in the pantheon of revolutionary leaders of the 20th century, a man who inspired and guided from exile a revolution that brought down one of the Middle Eastís strongest autocrats and who then returned to install a brutal theocratic system, the survival, workings and ambitions of which still confound many.

Iranís revolution, like all others, is a tale of idealism mugged by the reality of power. And like all revolutions it has its share of glory, lies, myths, heroes, villains, and victims. Mohamed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, a weak character torn between modernist and autocratic instincts, was its first victim: with him went any chance of a return to monarchy. The real victims, though, were the liberal, leftist and nationalist factions that allied with the religious fundamentalists against the Shah, only to be consumed by them. In the ruthless battle for legitimacy and power during the first years, the fundamentalists proved better at using the mob and manipulating events.

What made Iranís revolution so special was its blend of religion and populism. Popular uprisings elsewhere were all about reducing the power of the church. In reaction to decades of frenetic modernisation, Islam became the rallying cry of diverse factions in Iran, despite meaning different things to each. The most radical version of the mosque prevailed. Power was concentrated at the top through the velayet al-faqih, or rule of jurisprudence: the Supreme Guide has overriding authority over affairs of church and state, and oversees a system purposely fragmented to prevent the rise of powerful competitors.

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[link to www.alarabiya.net]
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