Waves of protest in Iran suggest growing divide between young and old, and secular and fundamentalist, say experts.

The recent death of a young Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of Iranian authorities has sparked a massive wave of protests—both online and in the streets.

There are echoes of the past in this new wave of protests along with a very clear demand for freedom and bodily autonomy, three Duke University scholars said Thursday in a virtual media briefing (video above).

Negar Mottahedeh is a professor of gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. She has written books on the history of reform and revolution in Iran, and the uses of various media in protest.

Mohsen Kadivar is a research professor of Islamic studies in the department of religious studies. He was imprisoned in Iran for his political activism and has been in exile from the country since 2007.

Bruce Jentleson is a professor of public policy and political science. He served as senior adviser to the US State Department Policy Planning Director from 2009-11.

Here are excerpts:

Mottahedeh: “There’s 40 years of sanctions that have informed the political and economic conditions in Iran alongside an isolationist government. There are a lot of political and economic factors that are driving this movement.… It really is about freedom for all.”

Kadivar: “Over the past five years, Iranians have increasingly taken to the streets to protest. Protests over rising gas prices in November 2019. Protests over low-quality water in July 2021. Protests over the removal of bread subsidies in May 2022. And now protests over the death of Mahsa Amini and mandatory hair covering, and also freedom, in September of 2022. This is really increasing in frequency and I think it shows that Iranians are outraged with grievances that won’t soon go away.”

Jentleson: “I think the Biden administration has a pretty full foreign policy agenda right now, particularly with the Russia war in Ukraine. Since it came to office it has been trying to re-establish, re-negotiate the 2015 agreement on nuclear non-proliferation and lifting of some sanctions.”

It’s a balance to strike for an American president between being supportive of those seeking freedom and doing it in a way that doesn’t compound their problems. It’s a very tricky balance and not one you can absolutely predict where it’s going to go as it develops.”

Read the full article about protests in Iran by Liz Goodfellow at Futurity.