There are three differences between the most recent protests in Iran and earlier ones.
Iran is currently experiencing political turbulence and civic unrest once more. Following a number of previous protests that have taken place in Iran recently, the most recent demonstrations were brought on by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested by the morality police and who later committed suicide.
What, then, is novel about this most recent series of protests? Here are three significant distinctions between these protests.
- There seems to be more broad and increased public support for these protests.
Iran’s morality police, which are responsible for enforcing stringent clothing and behaviour standards, are at the centre of the most recent protests.
Mahsa Amini was detained by the morality police earlier this month for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely. She later passed away. According to her family, she was battered (a claim rejected by the government and police).
Whatever happened, the Amini case has led to a rise in public outrage over the morality police’s actions, with protestors calling for women to have the freedom to dress however they like.
The current protests have provided a suitable venue for the rage this broad group feels about how the government meddles in its citizens’ private decisions.
Social control and rigid lifestyle regulations have been the mainstay of their programs since the ruling clergy cemented their hold on power in the early 1980s by eradicating opposition parties.
It used to be far more widespread, extensive, and strict for the government to meddle in the private lives of its inhabitants. For instance,residences were checked for satellite dishes and VCRs.
Over time, these limitations have been loosened (to some degree). However, the laws continue to be severely biassed towards women. Government regulations are nevertheless strictly upheld. The argument over the headscarf and women’s attire is only one obvious example of how the Iranian regime continues to deny women their basic rights.
These rules are not only insulting and degrading, but they also make it very difficult for many women who disagree with the clergy to live their daily lives.
It’s difficult to find someone in Iran today who hasn’t experienced some sort of harassment from the governing clerics at least once.
Because of this, the number of individuals supporting the current protests looks to be relatively significant and widespread when compared to other rallies in Iran. Large and small cities, wealthy and impoverished neighbourhoods, all have protests going on.
- Women are leading the most recent demonstrations.
Women are leading these protests, in contrast to earlier ones in Iran.
These protests are centred on women’s rights, as opposed to earlier ones that were more concerned with economic or political concerns at large.
The protests this time around are in response to the government’s encroachment into individuals’ private lives, particularly those of women. The administration has found it challenging to convince many individuals of the validity of its initiatives thus far.
- These demonstrations have never before seen such boldness.
In Iran, every kind of protest carries significant personal risk. However, the most recent demonstrators have displayed uncommon bravery. There has never been a protester with such bravery.
Some ladies have taken off or burned their head coverings in public. Some people have shaved their heads in public.
Videos appear to show anti-riot police struggling to control the gathering and occasionally being pushed back by demonstrators.
It’s extraordinary given the size of the protests and the intensity of the most recent demonstrators.
Will these demonstrations result in long-term change
It is too soon to predict. Iran’s rulers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no interest in caving in to popular pressure.
The Iranian government may be afraid that giving in to demonstrators’ demands will just lead to further demands and perhaps lead to their overthrow.
Additionally, the most recent protests are scattered, even if they are well attended.
There is no assurance that the multiple protests taking place in different places will be able to unite under a single, cohesive movement.
The lack of a unified leadership and, it would appear, any type of rigorous organization also hinders the demonstrations.
Whether or not these protests have a meaningful impact on reform, Iran’s ruling clergy has clearly paid a price.
The impact these demonstrations have had on the Islamic Republic’s already waning international and internal credibility may be the most important of these consequences.