Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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How do events in Persepolis resemble a modern-day witch hunt in Iran?

Quick answer:

In Persepolis, Satrapi describes how Iran’s newly formed theocracy cracked down on former revolutionaries in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution. Many people in Marji’s life, including her uncle Anoosh, are killed or imprisoned. Today the Iranian government is treating citizens similarly, after protests over economic hardship and political corruption erupted in 2019. The current government is also strictly enforcing patriarchal requirements and ideologies on women that are reflective of those Satrapi discusses.

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Persepolis is set in Iran, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The revolution targeted government corruption and resulted in the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. After the revolution, Iran became a theocracy (a religious-based form of government) under Ayatollah Khomeini. The new fundamentalist government began a cultural revolution, imprisoning and killing former revolutionaries. This happened to many people in Marji’s life, including her uncle Anoosh, who was accused of being a Soviet and killed.

Today there is profound political repression in Iran. In 2019, protests erupted over a stark increase in gasoline prices. Security forces responded with intense action: shooting, killing, and arresting unarmed protestors. Unrest set off a crackdown on dissent similar to the one described in Persepolis.

But current government action is not just reflective of the treatment of former revolutionaries. Persepolis also highlights the revolution’s significant impact on Iranian women. Satrapi shows how women were viewed as inferior, and were required to wear a hijab at all times. In the summer of 2019, an Iranian revolutionary court sent four women to jail for a decade because they challenged the legal requirement for women to wear hijabs.

Overall, the way the Iranian government is actively seeking out and silencing those who oppose the government in any way mirrors Satrapi's descriptions of the fundamentalist government in the late twentieth century.

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