In photos: Islamic Republic of Iran 40 years on

On 1 April 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini formally announced his Shia Islamist state – four decades on, how people are faring in it remains a wonder for the world

Jan Scheider
Sunday 31 March 2019 13:51 BST

On 1 April 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran was officially established, as was the will of the people – a referendum had been held a few days earlier. Of a 71.6 per cent turnout, 95 per cent of said “yes” to an Islamic state.

I was there in February as the government marked the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution and the overthrow of the Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last occupant of the “peacock throne”. The country at large, however, didn’t have much to celebrate.

The currency was as weak as it was when President Trump announced his rejection of the 2015 nuclear deal last May.

Now Iran’s battered economy is on the brink of collapsing.

Although many people I spoke to seemed to feel suppressed, Iranians have become experts in finding ways to get around Islamic laws and the incessant banning of things such as social media. They are a people adept at adapting and extracting the freedoms that are taken for granted in the west by stealth.

Huge unemployment is a different matter and there is no hope in sight, with inflation higher than it ever has been in the country. In the past year, the rial has lost up to 70 per cent of its value.

The price of food, rent, pretty much everything, has increased drastically, while salaries have remained the same.

Many young Iranians no longer see a future in their country. Foreign language schools are booked out for months as students are trying to study abroad. Most Iranians have withdrawn all their cash from their bank accounts, exchanging it for dollars, euros or gold – they expect no less than an economic collapse.

Despite all of that, the government remains stable. The unorganised and spontaneous protests that started in late December 2017 and were randomly repeated throughout the following months have been suppressed without the announcement of a single reform.

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