Ethnic Identity and the State in Iran by Alam Saleh (auth.)

By Alam Saleh (auth.)

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Mehdi Bazargan, Iran’s first prime minister, in his letter to Khomeini, asserts, “We think of ourselves as primarily responsible and duty-bound defenders of Iran, which is our place of birth. ”35 This view has, however, been rejected by the Islamic leaders. Ramazani says that “Bazargan claimed that his movement was a bridge between the secular National Front and the religious movement led by Khomeini. ”37 This paradox has been clearly evident in the history of Iran’s national security discourse since 1979.

3 The impact of this new regime was patently apparent in Iran’s postrevolutionary national identity discourse. ”4 The immediate objectives of the Islamic Revolution were to promote and, where necessary, impose Islamic values and mores among and upon the Iranian people. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s doctrine of velayat-e faqih (government by the religious jurists) therefore sought to establish an Islamic government, with its legitimacy derived from Islam, independent of people, wherein Continuity and Change O 27 elections and legislation were to be based only on Islamic principles.

Furthermore, the religious minorities benefit from religious freedom insofar as they do not promote their religious views and do not threaten the regime’s security. This also applies to the Muslim sects, such as the Sunnis and the Ismailis. Ethnic and religious minorities expected greater freedoms in the wake of the 1979 revolution. Khomeini’s calls for the Islamic community to be based on Shi’a ideology, however, indicated otherwise. As a result, ethnic groups, nonShi’a denominations, and non-Muslim religions were deprived of their rights.

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