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Tobacco Protest (Iran)


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(1891–92)

Popular Iranian protest against the shah's granting of a monopoly to the British in the sale and export of tobacco. Led by religious scholars, merchants, liberal intellectuals, officers, and Islamic modernists, who encouraged resistance to economic concessions that could serve as a prelude to foreign rule. Smoking was prohibited, the bazaars were closed, and strikes and demonstrations were held. Religious legitimation was provided by Ayatollah Hasan al-Shirazi, a spokesman for the ulama, who issued a fatwa against smoking tobacco. Mosques offered sanctuary to protesters and served as centers of resistance and political organization. The protest set a precedent for cooperation between the ulama and merchants in limiting the shah's power.

Subjects: Islam.


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