Ethnicity and Religious Minority Politics in Iran
This chapter discusses the status and rights of ethnic and religious minorities, emphasizing the perils of both secular ultra-nationalist homogenization and religious (Shi’i Islamist) segmentation in contemporary Iran. It argues that an uneven and overcentralized strategy of development has resulted in a wide socioeconomic gap between the center and peripheries. A great part of the grievances of ethnic minorities, who mostly inhabit provincial peripheries of Iran, has its roots in the uneven distribution of power and socioeconomic resources rather than in any interethnic tension. The chapter discusses the significance of the recent rise in politicization of ethnic issues, manifested during the presidential elections of 2005 and also in the 2006 clashes in Khuzestan and Kurdestan, from national, regional, and international perspectives. In spite of being treated as a minority, and in spite of the discriminatory attitudes and traditional cultural constraints, ethnic and religious minorities in contemporary Iran have succeeded in improving their social conditions, as well as in articulating their democratic demands and presenting themselves as a significant political constituency.
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