The Holy Defense
Marked by chemical weapons and human-wave assaults, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) was one of the deadliest wars of the twentieth century. The struggling and militarily weak Islamic Republic faced the existential threat of Iraqi invasion on the heels of the Revolution.
In order to mobilize public opinion and encourage military enlistment, the Iranian government deployed an immense visual output in support of the war effort. The contribution of every Iranian—young and old, male and female—was emphasized as necessary in the defense against Iraqi aggression.
For these reasons, and despite Iranian incursions into Iraq and an eventual stalemate, the Iran-Iraq War was known as the “Imposed War” and the “Holy Defense” within Iran. The Islamic Republic stressed its moral superiority by couching its military engagements (both defensive and offensive) as a sacred, collective effort to protect the Iranian homeland and ensure its survival.