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The Islamic Republic imposes strict rules on Iranian life. This extended photo collection shows Iranian society prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and, it’s obvious that Iran was a very different world.

It was also a world that was looking brighter for women. And, as everyone knows, when things get better for women, things get better for everyone. After the revolution, the 70 years of advancements in Iranian women’s rights were rolled back virtually overnight.

The 1979 revolution, which brought together Iranians across many different social groups, has its roots in Iran’s long history.

These groups, which included clergy, landowners, intellectuals, and merchants, had previously come together in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–11.

Efforts toward satisfactory reform were continually stifled, however, amid reemerging social tensions as well as foreign intervention from Russia, the United Kingdom, and, later, the United States.

The United Kingdom helped Reza Shah Pahlavi establish a monarchy in 1921. Along with Russia, the U.K. then pushed Reza Shah into exile in 1941, and his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took the throne.

In 1953, amid a power struggle between Mohammed Reza Shah and Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.K. Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) orchestrated a coup against Mosaddegh’s government.

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