Iran’s Other Generation Gap, 40 Years On

Among the Revolutionary Faithful, the Young Seek Confrontation While Their Elders Embrace Change

Handout / REUTERS

It was late in the afternoon on a cold winter day. Light snow had covered Tehran the night before, and I was spending the day in the production office of a small film unit of the Basij paramilitary militia. I was researching cultural producers in the Islamic Republic’s military and paramilitary organizations, and the young men who worked in this film unit had agreed to talk to me on the condition of anonymity. Ali, a 20-year-old Basij film editor, came into the office where I sat with his colleague Mustafa, 24. Ali was working on a sequence for state television about …