Iran’s Cultural Hegemony in Western Balkans

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The cultural activities of Iran focus on the use of the Ottoman literary heritage written in Persian by Iran, the creation of more philosophical discourse on Islam, the great investment in the field of producing Shi’ite religious knowledge, the attempt to interpret heritage Islamic mystics of the Balkans as Shi’ite heritage.

Several ideological groups and ideologies had fought against the policies of the Pahlavi regime in Iran, but it was the Islamists who in 1979 triumphed and succeeded in overthrowing Reza Shah Pahlavi. This overthrow was called the Islamic Revolution of Iran. After the installation of the Islamic system named “Velayat-e Faqih”, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran began developing expansionist ideas, through which would extend the influence to other countries in the Middle East, especially across Islamic countries. In the course of time, they opened several organizations and educational- cultural centers through which they would spread the discourse of Islamist ideology as well as the Iranian narrative of Shi’ite Islam. Among these organizations has been the World Center of Islamic Sciences (Markaz-e Jahani Uloom-e Islami), Organization of Madrasas Abroad (Sazman-e Howzeha va Madares Kharej az Keshvar), Islamic culture and Communication Organization (Sazman- e Farhang va Ertebatat-e Islami), Al-Mustafa International University, etc. In addition to providing higher education of Islamic knowledge for non-Iranian students, these centers in many countries of the world have also opened their representative offices where they have organized educational, cultural, and Islamic knowledge activities. These organizations also opened their offices in the Western Balkans region. Using these organizations, Iran in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia has opened scientific and research institutes, high schools, published scientific books and journals and managed to send a number of students to Iran to study in various departments, especially students attending school for Islamic sciences in the city of Qom.