Apr. 10, 2024 |

‘A whole new era.’ After a video was posted in early April of female students in Iran dancing and riding a motorcycle to celebrate their college graduation, their university has said it would pursue legal action against the women. Iranian human-rights lawyers have defended the graduates’ celebration as completely legal, while the university’s threats have prompted new calls within Iran to support women and students facing repression by the Islamic Republic.

The public behavior of young women in Iran has been a matter of unrelenting national controversy since the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody in September 2022, after being arrested and beaten for not wearing her hijab in accordance with the country’s laws. Her death triggered weeks of demonstrations throughout Iran, along with effusive global condemnation. In the month following Amini’s death, in October 2022, Vali Nasr examined the threat the uprising posed to the regime. The scale of the protests, Nasr says, revealed the breadth of popular discontent with the country’s leaders—and with some of the cultural foundations of the Islamic Republic itself.