Constitutional movement in Tabriz
The constitutional movement was the first attempt of the Persian nation in Tabriz to achieve freedom and achieve a regime based on the will of the people. The constitutional movement is a set of efforts and events that began to condition the power of the government.
The beginning of the constitutional movement
This movement began with the signing of the “Constitutional Decree” by Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar on August 5, 1285 AH, which lasted until the region of Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar. Undoubtedly, the ratification of the Persian constitution has been the most important achievement of this protest.
The constitutional movement is a special event in the contemporary political history of Persia. It reduced the authoritarian power of kings at the time, when people were not able to express their requests due to the absolute power of the kings.
There were internal and external contexts for the constitutional movement to form and gain the victory. The internal context of this revolution was the cruel behavior of the Qajar kings, the aggression of the princes, and the way the governors of the provinces ruled, and its external context was the unbridled intervention of the Russian and British governments in the affairs of Persia.
The events of the constitutional movement
The action of the constitutional movement began with the publication of a photo of Monsieur Noz, a Belgian in charge of Persia’s finances and a man who imposed customs tariffs on merchants, dressed as a clergyman and smoking a hookah in a ballroom. His actions caused dissatisfaction among the people and aroused their public anger to the extent that the society demanded his removal.
Another impressive incident in pushing the people was constructing the Russian loan bank on a dedicated land in a Muslim cemetery. While the bank was under construction, the new bones were discovered. The Russians carelessly dumped the bodies and bones in a well. This insult caused people to attack and destroy the building under the construction of the Russian bank.
The beginning of people’s protests
Another factor was the punishment of the merchants by Ala al-Dawla, the ruler of Tehran. During the Qajar period, most of the sugar consumed was supplied from Russia. Russia was also at war with Japan during this period – the 1904 and 1905 wars. Due to this, the import of sugar from Russia was reduced or stopped and sugar in Persia, especially in Tehran, became more expensive.
Ala al-Dawla, a tyrant, decided to invite some famous sugar traders to the government to ask them why sugar was so expensive. His main goal was to punish the merchants who had rebelled during the Belgian Mission to learn from others. From the invited merchants, he selected four who were sugar traders and ordered to flog them. The disrespect and beating of well-known bazaar merchants, especially Haj Seyyed Hashem Ghandi, who was known for his honesty, caused severe protests, the closure of the bazaar, and gathering in Shah Mosque in Tehran (now Imam Khomeini Mosque). The people called for an end to the oppression and the establishment of a court of justice.
The effects of the constitutional movement
Muzaffar al-Din died ten days after the signing of the constitution and was succeeded by Mohammad Ali Mirza. The durability was endangered with the death of Muzaffar al-Din Shah and the coming to power of his son Mohammad Ali Mirza who was a staunch opponent of the constitution. After coming to power, he opposed the protest and ordered the dissolution of the newly formed parliament, which faced popular resistance, which caused this command not to be executed. Mohammad Ali Shah tried to overthrow the constitutional basis, and the Russian Tsarist government supported that system. One of the most important and impressive factors in the development of national revolutions and social movements was writing and expressing. And the most famous and courageous writers and journalists were members of the National Revolution Committee of Persia.
The leaders of the Persian Constitutional Revolution and the Mojahedin were often from the middle classes. Despite their efforts, the Constitutional Revolution did not have a profound effect on the social situations. The emergence of some differences between the leaders of the revolution over political issues and the action of various parties, caused the constitutional government to fall into the hands of those who sought their interests. That is, the same former ruling class who, by changing their appearance in the post-constitutional period, also seized the reins of power and prevented any fundamental change in the social and economic life of the deprived classes. They increased their social prestige and influence due to their affiliation with the free government and their pretense of freedom and support for the constitutional elements.
It was not long before these events, despite the law, overshadowed individual tyranny over the country and kept Persia under the domination of cruel families for decades to come.