In post-revolutionary Iran, student riots erupted in the streets of Tehran and other urban centers, the larger in July, 1999, which lasted for six days and resulted in many arrests, abductions, and some casualties. They were the most vigorous and violent that has ever occurred in post-revolutionary Iran s history. Two decades after the Islamic Revolution, the streets and university campuses again became the battleground for rights. The children of Iran s Revolution had defied the taboo of criticizing and questioning the Islamic Republic. Iran s students have been granted increased attention, both due to the riots and because of their active role in the victories of the former pro-reform president M. Khatami. Although the immediate causes of the student riots appear to be political, the picture is rather complex.
This thesis is a case study of the student riots in post-revolutionary Iran. The main theoretical approach of this study is stemming from the demographic factor of the relationship between the presence of large youth cohorts and the onset of political violence, which advocates the notion of grievances and the motivation behind the participation in political violence. This thesis primary task is twofold: It sets out to explore the developments leading to the student riots, hence identify the main factors contributing to the arrival of riots. Further, by analyzing the student riots in post-revolutionary Iran, the intention is also to discuss whether the youth-bulge approach may be seen as determinant for the onset of political violence. By examining the findings provided in this thesis, I have been able to disclose the underlying factors which have contributed to the student riots, and to determine whether the youth-bulge approach is sufficient to explain the Iranian case. I have done so by analyzing the student demands, mobilization and organizations, and the main characteristics of the socio-demographic, socio-political, and socio-economic conditions in post-revolutionary time.
The thesis argues that the motivation perspective is essential; however exploring the opportunity for student activism is equally significant. The riots erupted to a large extent in the context of the reform movement, where it became a new opportunity for the students to channel their grievances. While socio-political issues such as lack of freedom were the main source of grievances, socio-demographic structural changes became the main contributor to the development of the reform movement. By viewing the student riots through the lenses of social movement theory, it has provided a more nuanced picture; and together with the youth-bulge approach, they complement each other in construing a richer understanding.