Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

For the past several days, Iranians have protested in some 90 cities around the country. While this has been noted as a rare event, which it is, a modicum of protest has been a recurring feature of the Islamic Republic’s recent past. I wanted to understand how the current round of demonstrations lines up with the country’s history of dissent, so I spoke to experts in Iranian political history and democratic movements. What I found is that the tensions that have allowed protests to erupt regularly in Iran’s theocratic autocracy go back to the founding of the Islamic Republic.

Join us on Monday, January 8, at 1:00 p.m. EST, for a conference call with Emma Green, who covers religion, politics, and policy for The Atlantic from Jerusalem. We’ll be talking about Emma’s recent reporting on young Muslims in America and the role faith plays in politics today. Send your questions for Emma to Register for the call here.

To access this story, become a member

Sign up for our brand-new membership program, The Masthead, and you’ll not only receive exclusive content you can’t find anywhere else—you’ll also help fund a sustainable future for journalism.

Find Out More

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to