by: Janet Aslin
Tuesday, 4 October 2022 | In his first public remarks on the protests which began three weeks ago, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, placed the blame squarely upon Israel, the United States and paid Iranian dissidents.
Al Jazeera reported Khameini’s speech to a class of police cadets on Monday. “I say explicitly that these riots and this insecurity were a design by the US and the occupying, fake Zionist regime [Israel] and those who are paid by them, and some traitorous Iranians abroad helped them.”
Did you catch the difference in terminology? What the West calls protests, the Iranian regime terms as riots. Those words hold a key to understanding the situation. While Merriam Webster defines a riot as “a violent, public disorder,” the word protest carries a much different connotation. The ability to protest in an “organized, public demonstration of disapproval” is considered one of the basic freedoms in a democracy. Sadly, this basic freedom is not available in today’s Iran.
The protests began after the death of Mahsa Amini. This 22-year-old Kurdish woman was arrested by Iran’s morality police because she was not wearing her hijab (head covering) properly. Beaten by police, she was then taken to a hospital where she died several days later. Officials claim the cause of death was a heart attack, but no autopsy was performed.
The protests began in the western area of the country shortly after Amini’s death on September 16. They quickly spread from the region where Iran’s Kurdish minority lives to the nation’s entire 31 provinces. As has repeatedly been the case under Iran’s totalitarian regime, the response from security forces has been brutal.
In just one example, authorities conducted a violent crackdown against student demonstrators at Tehran’s Shariff University. Security forces blocked entrances to the campus and used tear gas as well as live ammunition on the protesters. The next day classes were suspended and held online instead.
The outcry against Amini’s death has given the protestors their slogan: “Woman. Life. Freedom.” People, especially women, around the world are rising in solidarity with the people of Iran. Demonstrations took place in over 150 cities around the world over the weekend.
Many of the women cut their hair as a symbol of their support. In one such case, a 30-year-old Iranian woman living in Canada, who cut her waist-length hair, told AFP, “It was for the Iranian women who are fighting for their freedom, their lives in Iran. This is the least we can do to support my country, my women, my people in Iran who are under repression.”
In today’s world of multiple social media platforms that give people a window into life in other places, it is nearly impossible for governments to keep their citizens subjected to inhumane conditions. They see what life looks like in other countries.
Life in the United States and Israel, while not perfect, does offer the right to hold “organized, public demonstrations of disapproval.” In that sense, perhaps the Khameini was correct that the US and Israel did play a small part as both nations support the longing of the Iranian people to enjoy basic freedoms.
Posted on October 4, 2022
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 4, 2022)
Photo Credit: PersianDutchNetwork/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
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