A forgotten anniversary: Iran’s first revolution and constitution

Amir-Hussein Firouz Radjy writes: With the New Year came and passed the forgotten anniversary of a seminal event in Iranian and Asian history: the anniversary of Iran’s first revolution and Asia’s oldest parliament, whose centenary came and passed some years ago without a murmur. Remembering that event today would do much to elucidate Iran’s present situation, as well as the vexed relations of Iranians with both their government and the outside world.

The zero hour was late on the night of December 30, 1906, when the dying emperor of Iran, Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar, signed into law the country’s first constitution, launching a brave experiment in liberal and parliamentary government. Iran, which for the past century had been a plaything in the contest between the British and Russian empires known as the Great Game, shone as a beacon of hope for an Asia drowning in the high-tide of European imperialism.

The struggle for democracy in Iran – or more accurately, for responsible, progressive and independent leadership – is over one hundred years old and did not begin with the Green Movement in 2009, nor with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 or the 1950s nationalist movement under Musaddiq. These historical events marked not the birth, but the continuation of the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy that had begun in 1906. [Continue reading…]

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