The mystery of how an Islamic dictatorship came to power remains more than thirty years after the Islamic Republic’s inception in Iran. The precise nature of a regime that calls itself both a republic and Islamic but is neither is little understood. The ayatollahs’ unpopularity may have reached unprecedented heights, but their power seems more secure. Such paradoxes weigh heavily and judgments diverge. While public opinion wonders how an archaic theocratic regime could survive so long, some explain it in terms of Iran’s continued modernization and the clergy’s ability to reconcile itself with politics. Studying Iran's history for the past one hundred years reveals the force of a religious conservatism opposing political modernity, repelling any attempt at democracy by Iranians, thanks to its constant metamorphoses. Shirali studies the curse of the Shiite clergy on political modernity. It is a convincing, in-depth criticism of the ideological Islam imposed on Iran.
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