“Woman, Life, Freedom”: What Chances for a New Iranian Revolution? [OPINION]


Last week, about fiftyfrench artists, including Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Adjani and Isabelle Huppert, cut their hair – a traditional Iranian gesture of mourning – in solidarity with the demonstrations by women against the Tehran regime and Ali Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989. With the slogan "woman, life, freedom", the protests which followed the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, Mahsa Amini, detained by the " vice squad for non-compliant wearing of the hijab, are already entering their 4th week. However, what are the real chances of real change in Iran 43 years after the 1979 revolution, the seizure of power by the ayatollahs and the establishment of an Islamic Republic? Will the current protest lead to the new revolution many hope for, or to the extinction of all opposition by law enforcement like in 2009 (during the protests against the fraudulent re-election of President Ahmedinajad) and 2019?

The regime denied responsibility for the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran on September 16, citing an underlying health condition, but since, according to Iran Human Rights, there are 185 people killed by the regime in connection with the protests, including at least 3 other young girls, Hadis Najafi, Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh. Hadis Najafi was shot dead in Karaj on September 21; officially, the authorities declared that Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh committed suicide, but human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, said they died after being beaten by the police. Nika Shakarami disappeared after she was filmed burning her hijab during a protest in the capital on September 20. Her aunt and uncle first told the BBC that she had been held by the Revolutionary Guards for 5 days before her death; if they subsequently supported the official account of the facts, everything indicates that this reversal was the result of death threats. A death certificate also obtained by the BBC also claimed that the girl succumbed to “multiple injuries caused by blows with a hard object”. Same observation of human rights associations in relation to Sarina Esmailzadeh, already known for her protest videos on YouTube, whose family also suffered pressure after her death.

La mobilization of women against the compulsory wearing of the hijab is not new, having accompanied the Islamic Republic from the beginning : March 8, 1979, tens of thousands of Iranian women had protested in Tehran against the imposition of the veil announced the day before by Ayatollah Khomeini. Lost battle, the hijab becoming compulsory in April 1983, but polls carried out by the group GAAMAN between 2019 and 2022 show that all sectors of Iranian society, men and women alike, are mostly opposed to it. In addition, commentators point out that a societal change is taking place in Iran thanks to "Zoomers" or " Generation Z born after 2000, very present in the current protests. Well connected by internet to the outside world (and to the Iranian diaspora), able to organize themselves using social networks and less fearful than their parents, it is estimated that these 6 million Iranians could change the political situation in the country, even if they represent only 7% of society.

While these factors suggest that resistance to the government could eventually turn into a national uprising, its success is far from guaranteed in the immediate term.. There is no official counter-power in Iran, all political opposition having been crushed by the regime, which shows no sign of weakness so far. There is no dissension either within the security forces, whose behavior will be decisive in the months to come. The mullahs are believed to be determined not to repeat what they see as the fatal mistake of the Shah, who tried to quell the 1978 unrest by offering concessions, saying in a televised address on November 6 that he had “heard the voice of the revolution”. Since the coming to power in 2021 of ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raïssi – sometimes called the “ tehran butcher for its role in suppressing dissent in 1988, any easing seems out of the question. For now, the path advocated by the regime is rather that of repression, paradoxically combining obscurantism and the latest technological innovations. Iran is working in particular with chinese companies such as Huawei to develop means of surveillance (facial recognition and others) to facilitate the identification of dissidents and to control the internet. As for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he came out of his silence following the death of Mahsa Amini to denounce the interference of the eternal enemies of the Revolution: the United States and Israel.

peter banister

source: Madame Figaro

This article is published from Selection of the day.

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