Print version

A Regime Unveiled. Social and Ethno-Sectarian Tensions and Democratic Evolution in Iran


Since mid-September 2022 Iran has faced a wave of countrywide protests from Iranians throughout the society. Protesters demand justice against police violence and an end to discrimination of women, Sunnis and ethnic groups. The protests are home-grown and spontaneous and show no sign to abate. They are neither centrally directed nor is there a clear leadership structure, as was the case with the so-called “Green Movement” in 2009. The clerical regime is left with two equally problematic choices. A brutal clamp-down would risk transforming the protests into ethno-sectarian strife, which would stymie the country for a generation. Alternatively, the Islamic Republic’s leadership could give in and start a political reform process which however would go against the interests and identity of its core followers. Assuming the regime brings the current protests to heel, it will still face the same in the future, and it is anything but certain it can endure an endless cycle of political unrest.