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Democracy and secularism in Iran: lessons for the Arab Spring?

Rivetti, Paola orcid logoORCID: 0000-0002-1794-0504 (2013) Democracy and secularism in Iran: lessons for the Arab Spring? Mediterranean Politics, 18 (1). pp. 125-132. ISSN 1362-9395

The Iranian 2009 massive anti-regime protests in the wake of the contested presidential elections and the Arab Spring have taken the scholars of Middle Eastern Studies and the international community by surprise. It seems that, despite the very diverse outcomes of the uprisings in Iran and across the Arab world, Middle Eastern societies are in the very middle of what has been called an ‘unfinished revolution’ (Sakbani 2011). Despite the confusion that affected the academic community following the surprising events of the past few years, a great amount of studies have been produced in order to identify the roots and make sense of the uprisings. For the most part, however, explanations for the events refer to and are based on well-known theoretical debates and paradigms. In the case of the Arab world, the fall of long-standing authoritarian regimes has revived scholarly interest for the transition to democracy paradigm, whereas studies on the resilience of authoritarian regimes are now perceived as over-estimating authoritarian rulers’ grip on society. In addition, the electoral success of Islamist parties has re-ignited scholarly enthusiasm for the rather trite debate on the compatibility between Islam and democracy. In the case of Iran, similar debates centred on democratization versus authoritarian persistence and on the relationship among Islam, democracy and modernity have been animating academic discussions for the last two decades. The 2009 crisis strengthened 2 scholars’ perception of Iranian society as democratic, liberal, secular and in conflict with the authoritarian Islamic regime. Indeed, many social scientists of Iranian Studies support the idea that the explosion of political and social crisis in Iran, such as the 2009 uprising, demonstrates the existence of that liberal, secular and ‘modern’ civil society willing to shake a backward and authoritarian regime off. These four books elaborate on this interpretative line of inquiry, setting forth interesting arguments for an analysis of the current state of Iranian Studies and offering useful elements of reflection to scholars of the Arab world as well.
Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Arab Spring; Iran; Green Movement; Reformism; Liberalism; Neoliberalism; Democracy; Authoritarianism
Subjects:Social Sciences > International relations
Social Sciences > Political science
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of Law and Government
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Official URL:https://doi.org/10.1080/13629395.2013.761478
Copyright Information:© 2013 Taylor & Francis
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:23166
Deposited On:11 Apr 2019 09:03 by Paola Rivetti . Last Modified 23 Mar 2023 14:37

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