'Death to Dictator': Fearless Iranian Women Protest the Regime

'Death to Dictator': Fearless Iranian Women Protest the Regime
A student attends a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by anti-riot police in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo)

During the 2009 Green Revolution protests, the most haunting and viral image was of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan being shot and killed by Basij militia.

The most globally resounding image thus far from the latest round of protests in Iran has been a woman standing on a street corner perch waving a white headscarf on a stick instead of wearing the hijab.

More than 100,000 women took to the streets during the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protest the new regime’s declaration that wearing hijab would be mandatory.

Protests have continued in various forms over the years, with 2017’s #WhiteWednesdays social media protest campaign that included stealthy videos of women walking the streets in Iran without a headscarf.

On Dec. 27, Tehran police leader Brig. Gen. Hossein Rahimi announced, “According to the commander of the NAJA [Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran], those who do not observe Islamic values and have negligence in this area will no longer be taken to detention centers, a legal case will not be made for them and we will not send them to court; rather, education classes to reform their behavior will be offered.”

At least 22 people have been killed across the country in the latest round of protests that began Thursday and swelled to the largest demonstrations since 2009. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said he’d have a more detailed address about the protests “at the right time,” charged today that “the enemies of Iran united by using different tools in their disposition, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence, in order to create problems for the Islamic system.”

Tehran authorities said more than 450 protesters had been arrested there over the past three days, as Musa Ghazanfarabadi, head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, vowed demonstrators against the regime would be harshly punished.

Still, Iranians protest for basic human rights — including fearless Iranian women.