Islamic Republic of Iran – land between modernity and fundamentalism
Persia or Iran can look back on more than 2500 years of history. Whether the Old Persian Empire, the Parthian Empire or the Empire of the Sassanids in the early Middle Ages, all were among the most powerful states in the world at that time. Under the Safavids, the Shiite version of Islam became the state religion in 1501. In the 19th century, Persia came under pressure from the European colonial powers, which led to a phase of modernization and secularization in Iran. The strong growth of the population, heavy social tensions and the suppression of all opposition led to the overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and the establishment of the theocratic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini. Since the stabilization of the Islamic Republic in the 1980/1990s, Iran has seen itself as the protective power of all Shiites and has tried to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East. Inside, governance is dictatorial, based on a conservative, fundamentalist Islam.