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Amid brutal government crackdowns, dissent continues to simmer in Iran

Women hold Iranian flags during a parade in western Tehran.
Marjan Yazdi
Women hold Iranian flags during a parade in western Tehran.

Vanishingly few Western journalists have been able to report from Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini in September. Protests erupted after the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died in police custody after the so-called morality police accused her of not wearing her hijab appropriately. Five months later, NPR was granted a visa to visit Iran — the first time since 2021.

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly and producers Fatma Tanis and Connor Donevan spent a week in Tehran and Isfahan interviewing citizens and state officials about the months of widespread anti-regime protests and Iran's brutal government response.

"What we know of what's happening in that country is through social media accounts ... [and] the little bits that Iranian journalists have been able to get out," Kelly says. "And so we spent a week going everywhere we could — street corners, parks, people's living rooms, restaurants, wherever — and just saying, 'What do you think about what's happening in your country? What do you want Americans to know?' And then we listened.

"When you go to report from a place like Iran, you're not going to be able to see everything you want to see," she says. "My attitude has always been: what's the alternative? Isn't to glimpse something better than nothing?"

Listen to the full report by clicking or tapping the play button above.

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Julian Ring
Julian Ring is an associate producer for NPR One. He adapts radio stories for NPR's digital platforms and creates original audio available exclusively on NPR's mobile apps. Ring previously oversaw podcast operations for NPR One and hand-curated daily news using the app's editorially responsible algorithm.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.