the highway called Legacy of the Imam ends at Evin Prison


On June 12, 2009, I was among a hundred or so people standing outside a girls’ school in Mashhad, Iran, hugging the shade of a yellow brick wall. My friend N. and I were waiting to vote in the presidential election. It was Friday, the Iranian weekend. Stores were shuttered, intersections free of surging traffic. The mood was mellow—when a stooped old woman cut to the head of the line, several of us smiled. In the school parking lot, a Revolutionary Guard lounged on a chair, cradling his Kalashnikov. He waved us past garish instructional murals—the cornea of an eye; a red heart complete with ventricle—into a dim hallway strung with colored bulbs. Through an open door a radio blared; all morning the state network had broadcast patriotic marches and exhortations to vote. A slender man with gray hair and glasses held out a hand. I gave him my National ID Card. “Birth certificates only,” he said, returning it.

more from Gelareh Asayesh at the American Scholar here.