Latest Issue

Reading Iran

Over the past decade, Iran's clerical conservatives have defeated their reformist rivals. But the summer election of populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is generating new conflicts among the networks that control the state. How will this affect Iran's relations with the west? Is liberalisation really dead?

By Tom Porteous   January 2006

We had arrived at Jamkaran, a holy shrine outside the Iranian city of Qom and site of a water well where the 12th and last imam of Shia Islam, the Mahdi, is said to have disappeared a little over a thousand years ago. Many Iranians believe that the so-called hidden imam, or “imam zaman” (lord of all the ages), will at any moment choose this place to make his return to solve the world’s problems. In recent years, the millenarian cult of the well of Jamkaran has become so popular that a hotel has been built nearby and the old…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect