Tobacco Movement and Destabilization of Monarchical Authority in Modern Persia

  November 26, 2020   Read time 1 min
Tobacco Movement and Destabilization of Monarchical Authority in Modern Persia
Tobacco Movement was more than a social and political development rather it proved the possibility of challenging the monarchical absolutism through integration and popular union. This led to the institutionalization of social and civil disobedience in the Persian society.

The Tobacco Protest was able to destabilize the hard-won order of the Naseri era and ignite a popular protest led by a fragile coalition of merchants, the ulama, and dissidents. In the months and years after the Regie, Iran more frequently witnessed expressions of turmoil in the provinces, often with mojtaheds at the helm. In Isfahan, a center of Shi‘i activism, the notorious Aqa Najafi, the doyen of a wealthy and powerful clerical family (who for years had fought a dirty war with Zell al-Soltan, prince-governor of the city), even declared the advent of an “Islamic government” on the heels of a declining monarchy. It was as though faith in the shah as an icon of stability had been shattered. Some four years after the end of Regie, on May 1, 1896, Naser al-Din Shah was assassinated on the eve of a jubilee celebrating his fiftieth lunar year on the Qajar throne (AH 1264–1313). He had gone to the ‘Abd al-‘Azim shrine to pay homage to the Shi‘i saint and give thanks for his long rule, which had been the longest since the Safavid Tahmasp I. After saying his prayers, he walked freely among the pilgrims, who, contrary to the normal practice of royal visits, were allowed to stay inside the shrine. There he was shot point-blank by Mirza Reza Kermani, a devotee of Jamal al-Din Afghani. Kermani was an eccentric itinerant dealer in luxury goods and expensive fabrics, who harbored a grudge against the shah’s son, Kamran Mirza, for torturing him and subjecting him to years of imprisonment (Source: Iran a Modern History).