Iran: A revolution in motion? by Dr. Nader Vahabi
What is happening in the country of the mullahs a month after the tragic death of Mahsa on September 16, 2022?
Why has an unprecedented protest and rebellion movement with the emblematic slogan “Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator” become the daily motto of protests in Iran and a slogan heard all around the world?
On Tuesday, September 13 2022 at 6:00 p.m., Mehsa (Jina) Amini, 22, born in Saqqez in the Kurdish region and who was travelling to Tehran to meet with relatives, was arrested whilst leaving the Haqqani metro by the Orientation and Morality Patrol of Tehran because she was wearing her veil in a way that was not considered correct. After the protest in Kiares, Amini’s brother was told that his sister would be taken to the detention center for a “training course” and would be released within an hour.
However, soon after her arrest, due to the serious injuries caused during her transfer by the beatings inflicted by the Irshad patrolmen, she fell into a coma and died three days later on September 16 at Kasra hospital in Tehran.
Three weeks after the start of the demonstrations, the Iranian authorities, whilst denying being at the origin of the death of the young Kurd, affirmed on Friday October 7 that the death of Mahsa Amini was not caused by “blows” but was the result of an illness. This claim was rejected by her family and her lawyer, Saleh NIKBAKHT.
The young woman has become a powerful new symbol of the brutality of the religious theocracy spreading a wave of anger in the country which has affected almost 180 cities, about twenty universities, traders in the bazaar and workers in some factories and even schools. In some cities, some women burn their obligatory veil and veiled women also give them their support. Security forces have been deployed in great numbers in major cities in the company of pro-regime plainclothes militias.
Every day, there are clashes between the police and the demonstrators leaving at least 248 dead including 28 minors. There have been about 5500 arrests. The demands coming from the middle and working class are no longer economic demands (unlike the two previous riots of 2020 and 2018) but about politics and the non-respect of human rights.
As far as the future of the youth protest movement is concerned, we need to ask: will it die out on its own, suffocated by bloody repression, or will it be able to settle permanently leading to the end of the Islamic State? Although the movement suffers from a lack of organization and a charismatic leader, it is a movement that is horizontal and which has largely progressed thanks to social networks similar to those of the Arab Spring. A benchmark has been reached as this radical movement is targeting the entire regime and the Supreme Leader.
Dr. Nader VAHABI is a Sociologist with the Interdisciplinary Solidarity, Societies, Territories Laboratory best known under the French acronym of LISST. This is a Joint Research Unit in Human and Social Sciences with a wide thematic coverage which falls under sections 36, 38, and 39 of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). It is located at the Maison de la Recherche on the Mirail campus of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University.