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What is Islamic fundamentalism?

We must first have a clear definition of what Islamic fundamentalism is, as the term is widely used, without a universally accepted definition. From a historical perspective, fundamentalist and reactionary interpretation of Islam began only a few decades after Islam first appeared some 1400 years ago. In modern times and during the twentieth century, too, fundamentalist movements sprang up in different parts of the world as isolated, weak movements. But what we call Islamic fundamentalism today came to prominence with the rise to power of Khomeini in Iran in 1979 and began to have an impact on the Middle East and the world by relying on the resources of a state as large as Iran. So even though Islamic fundamentalism predates the mullah’s regime, it never had the level of organisation and scale of activity that it has had since Khomeini rose to power 26 years ago.

The Heartland of Fundamentalism

Iran enjoys a unique position in the world of Islam due to, among other factors, its strategic location, natural resources, and historical and cultural role in the development of the Islamic civilization. Thus, the mullahs’ victory quickly turned Tehran into the world capital of fundamentalists-similar to the relationship between Moscow and Marxism. More significant than money or arms, Tehran provided the fundamentalist currents with inspirational, political, regional, and international support.

Islamic Fundamentalism-Based Terrorism

Terrorism is a tactic, a function, and a method whose driving force is an ideological and political goal. Without such a driving force, terrorism would dry up and fail. In the 1960s and 1970s, terrorism was based on nationalist, secular views and in many cases was chauvinistic. For reasons that we will not discuss here, it started to decline in the second half of the 1970s. Despite the fact that reactionary religious movements existed throughout the twentieth century, they were never in a position to engage in terrorist activities until recently.

Iran – a prototype

The doctrine of Vellayat faghieh (the rule of the jurist) was first published by Khomeini in 1970. After assuming power in 1979 he completed this doctrine as “vellayate Motlaghe Faghieh” (the absolute rule of the Jurist).

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear arms, in the mullahs’ view, are "the most strategic guarantee" for their survival in the future of the region. In 1991, Ata’ollah Mohajerani, one of Rafsanjani’s deputies, also laid emphasis on the need to obtain atomic weapons. "Since the enemy has atomic facilities," he said, "Islamic countries must be armed with the same capacity." As the majlis speaker in 1989, Rafsanjani underscored the need to obtain an atomic arsenal, stressing that Iran cannot ignore the reality of the modem world’s atomic weapons.


While fundamentalism has become the new global threat, what is the strategic response to this threat? The response, in a word, is democratic Islam. Clearly, no one could warn the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims or 750 million Muslim women against the threat of fundamentalism with an un-Islamic model. So the central issue in our response is Islam itself. It is the genuine, democratic Islam that exposes the true nature of Islamic fundamentalism and provides an alternative to it.

Young man hanged in Iran prison

Young man HangingTehran, Iran, Aug. 18 – A 21-year old prisoner from the southern port city of Bandar Abbass was hanged in prison, a state-run daily reported on Thursday.

The young man, identified as Farshid Farighi, was hanged in prison after he was convicted of murder, according to the daily Javan.

An Iranian man was hanged in public in the volatile town of Ahwaz

ImageTehran, Iran, Sep. 17 – An Iranian man was hanged in public in the volatile town of Ahwaz, southwest Iran, on Saturday morning, Iran state-run news agency reported.

Majlis deputy urges greater crackdown on women

ImageTehran, Iran, Oct. 10 – A Majlis (Parliament) deputy from the central city of Isfahan told reporters that there was an urgent need to act against “corruption and mal-veiling” by women in society, state media reported on Monday.

Iran says women unfit to manage restaurants

ImageTehran, Iran, Sep. 09 – Female restaurant managers in Iran will be required to name a man as the person who will carry out the management on their behalf, or else their businesses will be shut down, the country’s police force announced on Friday.

According to the Public Places Inspection Office of the para-military police, Iranian restaurants must be managed by men to prevent “social corruption”.