CLIO mr brice - page 29

Reza Shah made many improvements, such as in the
fields of building infrastructure, expanding cities and
transportation networks, and establishing schools. His
education policy supported the founding of girls’ schools,
which was enlightened for a Middle Eastern ruler of the
time - he even banned the veil. Reza Shah wanted Iran to
learn fromWestern modernisation, but the reforms were
going at a pace that the people could not keep up with,
and he was not beyond employing brutally oppressive
tactics. People protested against the Western dress code
that was being enforced on
them, with some women
wanting to wear the veil.
At the shrineprecinctsof the
Emam Reza at Mashhad,
where the protests took
place, several hundred
people were mowed down
by the machine guns of
the Shah’s troops in what
could only be described
as a bloody massacre.
Bazaar merchants detested
the state’s capitalistic
monopolies on exclusive
items that the Shah brought
in to boost state revenue.
Liberals and intellectuals
felt alienated by the
repression, censorship, and
the closure of newspapers
that criticised the Shah.
If any politician so much
as disagreed with the
Shah, they were arrested,
and silently murdered.
Although in possession of a
prosperous, industrialising
economy, something was
deeply wrong with the
political state of Iran, and by the time the world war
came about, Reza Shah had few friends left upon whom
he could rely on.
Britain and Russia justified their takeover of Iran by
claiming that Reza Shah had aligned himself with Nazi
Germany, and that Iran was therefore a hostile force to
be occupied and kept under close watch. Let us admire
that piece of Allied propaganda for a moment, before
we proceed to examine how the situation was a lot more
complex than it looked. Reza Shah, despite setting forth
a policy of neutrality, appeared to have fostered economic
ties with the German Empire. In reality he cared little for
the Nazis' policies, especially on anti-Semitism. Iran had
a sizeable Jewish population since the times of the Persian
Empire, due to Cyrus the Great personally ordering the
Jews of Babylonia to be freed from slavery, and giving
them a safe haven within the domains of the Persian
Empire. Despite the fact Adolf Hitler had declared Iran
to be an Aryan nation akin to the Germans, Iranian
Jews were still under threat from the violent persecution
of the Nazi regime. Abdol-Hossein Sardari, an Iranian
Diplomat who fell in love with a Chinese Opera Singer,
managed to exploit a
loophole in the Nazi race
Laws allowing him to win
exemption for Iranian
Jews from this violent
persecution. He achieved
this by arguing that
they did not have blood
ties to European Jews,
and therefore deserved
a completely different
set of classifications. His
actions saved thousands
of Iranian Jews from
eventual deportation by
the Nazi regime, and from
the horrors of the gas
chambers. When asked
later about what he had
done for the Jews in Paris,
Sardari apparently said
that it had been his duty
to help Iranian Citizens.
When asked about the
Jews who had not been
Iranians, he replied “That
was my duty as a human
being.” However, Sardari
did not live a happy life
for the good deeds he had
done. His Chinese lover died during the Chinese Civil
War of 1948, a struggle between Communism and
Nationalism that set the foundation for the People’s
Republic of China that we know today. He was charged
for embezzlement by the post-war Iranian government,
and died in extreme poverty after losing his pension rights
and property following the Iranian Revolution. We can
see that at the time of the Anglo-Soviet intervention of
1941, the Shah himself, despite having encouraged the
Germans to a certain extent, had been actively resisting
German influence within Iran along with the help of his
government.
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