Shah mat: Iranian revolution of 1979. What is the connection to chess?

· Politics

The words Shah Mat in Farsi refer to the death of the King. This is the origin of the term ‘checkmate’ in English. It is the final move in a game of chess. The person who checkmates the other player wins the game. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution resulted in the death of the Shah. The battle was epic, with the main leaders on either side being Mohammad Reza, and Ayatollah Khomeini. Civil war erupted in Iran during this period because of the Shah’s oppression of the people, which included an overly zealous secret police.


Anyone on the side of the Shah was killed in a brutal rampage. Following these incidents, Khomeini assumed power because he was the only electoral choice. After the removal of the Shah, under Khomeini the country began to live according to Islamic standards, which meant a severe reduction in women’s rights. The public, especially young people, did not favour these new rules, and a rebellion erupted.


It was around this time that Iraq attacked Iran, believing there would be an easy victory given Iran’s weakened state. However, Iran surprised by Iraq by fighting back hard, and achieving at least partial victory.


This revolution was similar to the great revolutions of the past, like the American Revolution, although obviously there were differences. In both cases, rights were discussed, and granted in a general way, but if you look closely, you will see that not everyone participated equally in the exercise of these rights. However, it was a fantastic first step, and it should be remembered that there is the classic story where one time the Arabs invaded Persia as it was then called, and the leader mentioned women’s rights. The Persian ruler at that time (if anyone knows more details, please let me know) laughed and said they had been championing women’s rights long before the Arabs did.

As I’ve stated in other blog articles, (one is entitled Women in Saudi Arabia are kind of lucky!), it is a myth that women are treated better in the West as compared to the Middle East.



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