Defying The Fatwa

Yesterday marked the fire festival of Chaharshanbeh Suri, an annual celebration that precedes Norooz, the Persian New Year. The Iranian government frowns upon the ancient Zoroastrian holiday because of its non-Islamic roots. Shirin Sadeghi explains why this year is different:

[A]midst what has become a people's movement for fundamental change in Iran, authorities went one step further than their usual disapproval of all things Norooz, and the Supreme Leader outright banned the fire festival with a fatwa. The fatwa states that the fire festival "has no basis in Sharia and is a requisite for much harm and corruption."

A heavy security presence and arrests kept large crowds under control, but many small-scale protests shone through.