Can Iran’s Islamic Republic No Longer Depend on Its Diehard Backers?

Recent Protests in Rural Small Towns Suggest the Regime's Support May Be Crumbling

In the early weeks of 2018, protests swept through the small towns of Iran, mobilizing angry voices among the disgruntled lower rung of society. Demonstrators marched in the streets and assembled in major squares, chanting slogans against the country’s theocracy. Meanwhile, large cities, where some of the largest anti-regime demonstrations previously had taken place, remained relatively quiet.

Though this year’s demonstrations have received less global coverage than earlier ones, this latest round may well be more significant: They show support for the government crumbling in the rural, poor base that …

How Iranian Women Turn “Pious Fashion” Into Under-the-Radar Dissent

By Personalizing Headscarves and Painting Their Toes, They Challenge the State's Power to Define Female Morality

In 2018, Islamic clothing is officially cool. CoverGirl has a hijabi ambassador. H&M sells a popular modest clothing line. Even Barbie wears a headscarf on a doll modeled after the …

What Saudi Arabia’s Vibrant Art Scene Says About Its Internal Struggles

Artists Are Using Ambiguity to Probe the Fault Line Between Modernity and Conservative Islam

When I first saw Ajlan Gharem’s video, “Paradise Has Many Gates,” at an art studio in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I was amazed.

It opens with a small single-story structure made …

Why It’s OK to Laugh About ISIS

Don’t Blame Muslims for Joking About Terrorists

I used to tell jokes about my lady moustache.

I thought it was important to let everyone know about my struggle to rip follicles from the root of my face, …

The Dome Is Where the Heart Is

A Hallmark of Middle Eastern Architecture Helps Muslims Orient Themselves Toward Mecca, and One Another

The green dome of the Omar ibn Al-Khattab mosque in Los Angeles interrupts the low skyline with a quiet gravitas. The mosque has been here since 1982, next door to …

Why the Middle East Never Bought Obama’s Politics of Hope

Egyptian Revolutionaries Were Hardly Surprised When America Fumbled the Arab Spring

On the night of Barack Obama’s election in 2008, I stood outside a dormitory at the University of Texas at Austin, debating two Egyptian bloggers about Obama’s win.

About two …