“Crowd of Persian Revolutionists, Who, fearing the vengeance of the royal troops, took refuge int he British Legation in Teheran in 1906, and insisted on remaining there until the Shah gave them a parliament.”

Revolution is no stranger to modern Iran. In the May, 1908 issue of The National Geographic Magazine, published just a century ago, there was an article by W. P. Cresson entitled “Persia: The Awakening East.” Here is an excerpt from Cresson’s account of the newly formed parliament:

The strong nationalistic spirit that marks the new era in Persian affairs is one of the most interesting features of the present movement in Persia. It is not among the frock-coated European dandies of the court that we must look for the men who are now taking the leading part in the new agitation for reform. Many of the constitutionalistic leaders wear the flowing robes and white turban of the Mohammedan priesthood. Recently the Liberal Parliament by an overwhelming majority voted to suppress the publication of a Teheran newspaper which had dared to propose the substitution of a new civil code modeled on European lines for the old common law based on the precepts of the Koran. One of the chief causes of popular complaint against the leaders of the Court party is their subserviency to foreign influences and their unpatriotic policy of importing foreign officials into Persia, notably in the case of the customs administration.

The Mujtehids, or religious lawgivers, at one time started in a body for the sacred city of Kerbela as a protest against the fashion in which their advice and demands were ignored by the Court party, and had already proceeded some distance on their way before the latter were constrained to relent. In the meanwhile the Liberal leaders in Teheran, fearing the vengeance of the troops in the pay of the government, had taken refuge in the compound of the British legation, where according to treaty rights, they were safe against arrest or persecution. It was reported at the time that no less than 13,000 inhabitants of Teheran had thus thrown themselves on the mercy of a foreign government.