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Empires to Nation States

Islamic Period

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Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Coronation, 1967

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Coronation, 1967

Mohammad Pahlavi was the last shah of Iran. Shown here at his official coronation in 1967 with the entire royal family (from left to right: Princess Ashraf, Princess Shahnaz, the Shah, Princess Farahnaz and Crown Prince Reza, Queen Farah, and Princess Shams), the Shah was overthrown by the Iranian people in the Revolution of 1979. Mohammad Pahlavi was widely unpopular, especially during the latter years of his reign. He ruthlessly repressed all opposition, and was notorious for the lavish style in which he and his family lived while the majority of the country did not see an improvement in their daily lives. While he did make attempts at reform, particularly increasing access to education and healthcare, he did not address the vast inequalities of wealth distribution in oil-producing Iran. That disparity, combined with the brutality of political repression by his regime (carried out mostly by the SAVAK, a secret police wing), alienated the shah from broad sections of the Iranian population and set the stage for popular unrest, led by the powerful Shi’a clerics as well as by leftists and secular intellectuals.

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