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Looking at a bridal shop in Tehran
Looking at a bridal shop in Tehran

TEHRAN — Iranian officials may restrict publication of the country's latest divorce statistics so as not to distress the public, which has long been taught that early and lasting matrimony is a key to social harmony.

"There have already been enough divorce statistics. Citing more won't solve the problems," Ali Akbar Mahzun, of the demographics department at the national registration office, was quoted as saying in the Tehran-based reformist daily Arman-e Emrooz.

Kurosh Mohammadi, an expert in social problems, told Arman that restricting figures would only undermine trust in the authorities and hamper the country's response to what public bodies are effectively considering a social ill, not unlike crime and vices.

Another newspaper, Shargh, reported that the move would be technically illegal given existing access-to-information laws. Hiding the numbers would also contradict President Hassan Rohani's promise to boost civic rights and transparency.

Mahzun, the registration official, later tried to clarify his statement, telling Shargh that he doesn't want to keep the divorce figures a secret, per se, but thinks they should be available only on a need-to-know basis. Access, in other words, should be restricted to government offices and government-approved researchers — not the press.

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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

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-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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