Globalization, Religion and Politics

James Gelvin, Professor of Middle East history at UCLA

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Islamist movements trumpeted the same commitment to social justice and social welfare as had governments before the 1970s. That commitment still resonated with the inhabitants of the region. Their own populist credentials in tatters, states throughout the region answered those who challenged them with repression. In the case of Iran, this did not work. In 1978-9, a broad-based revolutionary movement overthrew the shah. In other cases, repression has provided what may prove to be only temporary relief. It is a bit ironic that in the post-cold War “Age of Democratization” and “Age of Globalization,” so much of the Middle Eastern population has thus found itself enmeshed in the twin snares of authoritarianism and economic stagnation.