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Bobby Ghosh

Iran’s Ruler Faces a Formidable New Foe: Schoolgirls

Does Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dare set his attack dogs on children?

The kids aren’t alright.

The kids aren’t alright.

Photographer: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images Europe

A week ago, I worried that the anti-regime demonstrations in Iran might falter if the mostly young protesters didn’t get some help from grown-ups — like the trade unions, say, or the so-called moderate elements within the theocratic state. I reckoned it would take the participation of groups of that stature to rattle Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s ruthless supreme leader.

The adults have not yet risen to the occasion, but the tyrant and his theocrats have been confronted and confounded by an unexpected constituency: schoolgirls. They represent a new kind of challenge for a regime that usually deals with dissent by licensing its security forces to use torture and murder. Does Khamenei dare turn his thugs on children?