Omid Reza enrolled in the Basij militia at age 15. Since then, he’s been attending every Thursday night meeting and participating to every mission of his group, whose task is to enforce the Islamic dress code in the neighborhood and to regulate the activities of unmarried couples. His father owns a small building business, but Omid Reza would rather join the ranks of the Guardians of the Revolution. In this picture, he’s standing in a small street in his neighborhood of Khani Abad, all festooned for the birthday of Mehdi, the Imam who has gone into hiding since his disappearance in 874 and who, according to the Shiites, will come back to save the world when injustice will have prevailed. Then he will kill all miscreants and sinners to the last one.

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Omid Reza at home. He is optimistic for his country: “Iran is getting better and better”, he says. “The only problem is that women do not cover themselves sufficiently.” This does not forbid him from watching the satellite channels beamed in Iran by the Californian Diaspora, that the regime deems illegal.


Seyed Abdullahi, 44, lost his brother and his two legs during a missile attack on the Iraqi front where he was a Basij volunteer.


Abbas, 25, is a mechanic and has been a member of the Basij militia for ten years. His garage is specialized in an Iranian imitation of Honda motorcycles.


Bahador, 30, is a Basij volunteer. He has a shop at the market of Mahestan, which is specialized in religious videos and propaganda films on the Iran-Iraq War.


The Mahestan bazaar, south of Revolution Square, is a kind of supermarket for the Basij. You can find posters of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and of the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whips for the Ashoura ceremonies, and videos praising the ‘victory’ of the Hezbollah on Israel in the summer of 2006.

Original Idea & conception : Carole Cheysson ; Graphism : Emma Brante . Webdesign : Crosscross ; Production : Les poissons volants — © Copyright Éditions Grasset, Paris.