From Alastair Northedge
Professeur d'Art et d'Archéologie islamiques
UFR d'Art et d'ArchéologieUniversité de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) (I cite with his name with his permission):
"In her new book, Shirin Ebadi attacks the Iranian regime policies in support of the poor people."
Shirin Ebadi's accusation against the Iranian regime of being in favour of poor people is nothing new. Rather it is the basis of the success of the regime. The regime is populist, even demagogic, and has been since the revolution. Ahmedinejad was only an extreme. The exiles are mainly of the old upper class, and frequently anti-Islam, claiming that Iran was forced to convert by the Arabs. Not true. It's a history that goes back more than a millennium. Before Islam, the elite didn't pay taxes. I wouldn't be
surprised to hear that Iran converted so easily to Islam, simply to get away from the taxes. Not much support in the sources, but then they are written by the descendants of the elite. The same happened in India, where many converted to Islam in order to escape the caste system.
The regime is very interested in pleasing "the people". It's what keeps them in power. If they didn't they would be out. Unfortunate that the policy's main visible product is the construction of new Shi'ite shrines. The exiles are not offering anything. Perhaps that will be another consequence of Rouhani's demarche, that Iranian society will come more together."