The Militarization of Culture in Iran

Mohammad S. Alzou’bi

Mohammad S. Alzou’bi, MA candidate in International Policy and Diplomacy at UK Staffordshire University.


The human identity among different nations around the world are shaped according to the nature of region and surroundings, furthermore, the other coercive factors such as immigration and invasions. The culture concept made to express the form of the daily life of a person within a nation unit, in addition to the theme of interaction between members of the same unit or others abroad.

To examine an extraordinary case in the Middle East region and as a result of several successive falls of dynasties, Iran has consisted a variety of cultural fabric, starting from the Persian Empire of Cyrus followed by Alexander, Arabs, Turks and Mongols eras of domination, ended by the Islamic conquest at the 7th century. Days passed, in 1979, Iran has abandoned its monarchy and handover the overall history, culture, civilization, and culture to the clergy of the state. The cultural life in Iran is a sacred factor for the people, as every Iranian capita has his pride and ostentatious toward any other nationality in the world.

Before 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini has promised the Iranian people to preserve their civil life, achieve democracy and freedom, as a mediator to deliver the reins of government safely to the hands of people. After 1979, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini did not fulfill his promises; the clergy dominated the country and formed an exclusive state, the Velayat-e Faqih concept appeared and overwhelmed even the new constitution, which dedicated to immunize the people’s rights. The exclusive elite put new “Islamic practices” that Iranians did not demand or target during 1979’s struggles.

This case affected the cultural life in Iran significantly and extensively, the clergy imposed harsh restrictions on society exceeded even the Islamic practices to the extent when people convinced that the exclusive system is trying to narrow any glimmer of democracy in the country, Ayatollah Khomeini went far from that and expressed democracy as “western lie”, and the people should be ruled by the “Government of God,” referring to Velayat-e Faqih.

The Khomeini system imposed more restriction as to Islamize the Iranian culture, reached the personal lives, people’s clothing, and the relationship between the two genders, women’s simplest rights, and even prohibited the dog walk, because “dogs are impure creatures”! Some of the religious and traditional celebrations are touched too, where many sects and ethics exposed to hard repression to curb them from practicing their own beliefs. It is worth mentioning that Iran recorded many cases of religious transformation from Islam to Christianity because of the hard-line trend that the system adopted after the clergy took place in the ruling office.

The Ayatollahs exploited the deep cultural concept within the society and politicized it to serve some international conflicts and to attract the emotional thought of Iranians as trapped and oppressed people. The system merged the slogans of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel” with the people negative culture towards the west. Iran’s culture within the Velayat-e Faqih became militarized as a means of mobilization for the public anger and to blame the United States in specific for conflicts and crises, Iran is ravaged by.

In another aspect, Green Movement in 2009 has proved the popular discontent on all aspects of life, the movement called for radical demands to even overthrow the Supreme Leader and asked from him to abandon his position. In response, the system intensified repression and expanded its detentions of women, students, activists, intellectuals and ethnic and religious monitories. Furthermore, imposed more restrictions on professional associations and banned events that would bring people together like funerals, memorials, anniversaries, and even cultural, religious activities.

The pressure on the Iranian people are getting more intensive, and aside from economic crises, even high-ranking layers of the society would be expected to participate in a cultural transformation across the country. These attempts of militarizing the Iranian culture could lead to a reversal and negative movement and another cultural revolution, which can change the overall state of repression in the country. Many Iranians still resist until nowadays against the theocratic practices towards cultural and social life in Iran.



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