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Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Iran Reader

Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), affiliated with the ruling Christian Democratic Union, has published Iran-Reader 2012, compiled by Oliver Ernst.

In her contribution, Juden Im Iran, Katajun Amirpur tells the story of Iranian Jews, explaining how the Islamic revolution of 1979 brought an end to “the golden era” of Iran’s Jewish community. She examines the rise of anti-Semitic outbursts under Ahmadinejad’s presidency.

Wahied Wahdat-Hagh reminds the readers that the situation of Iran’s Baha’i community is still much worse than any other religious minority in the Islamic Republic. Unlike Jews and Christians, the Baha’is are not entitled to legal protection as a religious minority under the regime’s constitution and suffer widespread persecution and discrimination. Wahdat-Hagh points out to the specific theological challenges that the doctrines of the Baha’i faith pose for Iran’s ruling Shia clergy.

Bijan Khajehpour’s article in English gives a picture of the critical state of the Iran’s economy, analyses the negative impacts of international sanctions and internal mismanagement, and assesses the political consequences:

A central question with regard to the Iranian economy remains what impact deteriorating economic conditions will have on the Iranian society and politics. Such consequences have been summarized below:

- The negative impact on the Iranian middle class has led to a high degree of frustration and de-politicization. In fact, economic survival has become the highest priority for lower and middle income families pushing the desire for a democratic opening into a distant second priority. This means that hopes for any social uprising in protest against the regime have been dashed. In addition to economic hardship, any push for a social uprising would be hampered by the fact that the society as a whole does not consider a violent upheaval an option as long as it is uncertain what regime would follow;

- At the same time, key regime constituencies benefit from the current economic crisis. Some welcome it as it paves the way for a more security-driven political agenda. Others benefit as a result of lack of competition in the Iranian market as well as economic activities related to smuggling, sanctions-busting and corruption;

- Nonetheless, it is crucial to understand that the changing political culture in the Islamic Republic of Iran has transformed the internal competition between factions, whereby the sphere of interests has moved from ideological-revolutionary to a more pragmatic-economic nature. The greater competition for economic interests may shift the balance of power in the longer run and it may lead to a scenario where economic interest groups will push for a moderation in politics to safeguard their interests;

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