Why I worry about Israel’s future
By Reza Aslan
(CNN) I know better than most how unexpectedly a country can be changed from within.
I was born in Iran before its 1979 revolution, when it was a secular country with a modern constitution and equal access to the law, but ruled by a dictator with an iron fist.
In the eyes of then-US President Jimmy Carter, Iran was an “island of stability in one of the most troubled areas of the world.” He said as much to the country’s long-serving monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, in a public toast in Tehran in December 1977.
But within the supposed “island of stability” there was a substantial minority population that was religiously conservative, politically active and zealously committed to imposing their values and agenda upon the state. When the Shah failed in his duty to address the needs of his citizens — when the government was revealed to be kleptocratic, inept and corrupt — the religious conservatives saw their chance.
With the backing of much of the population, they helped organize a massive revolution that roiled the country and forced the Shah and his family to flee as his kingdom was transformed into the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In this case, the revolution was sudden and violent. But not all revolutions happen in this way.
Some occur quietly and gradually, with one group injecting its ideology into the state, forcing more government concessions and taking on greater political power until, one day, you wake up and find this group has more or less taken over the state.