Why are people protesting in Iran?

Iran protests 2018 Tehran

For over a week, Iran has been experiencing widespread anti-government protests. Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Chair of the SOAS Centre for Iranian Studies and programme co-convenor for the MA in Iranian Studies, provides background as to why this is – and where it will lead.

Why have protests broken out across Iran?

The demonstrations are primarily about socio-economic inequalities and about the slow pace of political reforms promised by the current President Rouhani. They are an extension of Iran’s quest for a just and accountable political order.

Where do you think the protests will lead to?

They will fizzle out in the middle term because there is no penchant for sudden change among the majority of Iranians. On the one side, they will empower the president to make a stronger case for reforms. On the other side, it will make the Iranian establishment even more suspicious of the Trump administration’s intentions.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has placed the blame on the Islamic Republic’s “enemies” – who is he referring to and why?

He is referring to Israel, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia who have all stated their opposition to the Iranian state. Flanking them are a whole host of activists and idelogues, some with strong right-wing convictions.

Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam has recently published Psycho-nationalism: Global thought, Iranian imaginations –  a book that looks at the psychological and political roots of national identity in Iran.

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