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The growing trend towards political secularization in Iran : a deviant case Monsef, Camran

Abstract

The prevailing view about the Muslim world is that it is moving towards embracing Islamism and rejecting secularism and modernity. The thesis of this paper is that there is a demand for political secularization in Iran which makes Iran stand out as a deviant case. This paper seeks first to explain the historical context of the current situation, to illustrate how certain factors out of the past have a direct bearing on the political setting today, and then to examine the agents and manifestations of this demand for secularization in contemporary Iran. The methodology used is that of deviant and interpretive case studies. Secularization theory and Modernization theory are broken down and analyzed in the Iranian context. Contrary to the predictions of many theorists, modernization is not always unilinear and all-encompassing. Some areas progress, while others regress. The general conclusion of this thesis is that the demand for political secularization has been expressed through, and can be seen in, societal unrest, voting patterns, and opposition activities. Advances have been made towards modernization in areas such as education and the media, but retreats from modernization in such areas as a rational basis for government can also be seen. This thesis concludes that the retreat to tradition through a political system that is a strict theocracy—a system never before experienced in Iran— coupled with regime repression, have turned many Iranians against the idea of Islamism and have exacerbated the demand for secularization on a political level.

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