No one can really say when street protests morph into a revolution. In Iran, the “Women, Life, Freedom” protests may have already attained critical mass and could become a revolt in a flashover event. It certainly wouldn’t take much to ignite the population.
Like the old Bolshevik slogan, “Peace, Land, Bread,” that set millions of Russians marching to revolution, “Women, Life, Freedom” has the potential to do the same for Iran. The slogan is everywhere in every city, town, and hamlet in Iran.
If you look at the last decade and a half in Iran, protesting the regime happened about every year and a half. The catalysts for the protests were all different; a presidential election, high prices, and the government cover-up of the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane — the protests were eventually squashed by the extreme violence of the regime.
But none of those mass protests had a slogan that people could rally around. In a country where opposing the regime could get you thrown in jail — or worse — protesters have to find courage wherever they can. “Women, Peace, Freedom” has given Iranian men and women the courage to find a way to make their feelings known regardless of the consequences.
This is the fundamental difference in the current protest movement compared to others in Iran in the last dozen years.
These particular protests not only have a slogan to rally behind, but they also have a powerful symbol to look to for courage. Mahsa Amini only lived for 22 years, but her death at the hands of the Iranian Morality Police exactly a year ago today encapsulated all the hurt, the resentments, the oppression, the brutality, and the humiliation felt by the women in Iran. And now, men are joining their wives, their mothers, their sisters, and female relatives in this effort to change the heartless system that oppresses them.
There’s a new song sweeping the country — underground, of course — that unites men and women in opposition to the regime. “Your Headscarf” is a powerful tribute to Iranian women defying the clerical fascists in Tehran.
Take it from me: it’s a brilliant protest song. Or read the subtitled lyrics. They’re already singing it loudly on the streets.
Normally when a song captures the mood of a nation we make a star out of the singer/song writer. In Iran they put them in jail. Mehdi Yarrahi was… pic.twitter.com/1QrPCiSdWG
— Omid Djalili (@omid9) August 31, 2023
The singer and songwriter who wrote this piece, Mehdi Yarrah, was arrested two weeks ago.
You can’t know the full story of what’s happening in Iran without reading Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad’s work. Ms. Alinejad wrote an article in The Free Press marking the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death and chronicling the last year of mass protests in Iran.
One year after Mahsa’s killing, women continue to defy the regime’s compulsory hijab laws even though it could get them imprisoned or killed.
Take the case of Zeinab Kazemi, who removed her hijab in February at an engineers’ gathering in Tehran. This month she was sentenced to 74 lashes. After she was sentenced, she wrote on Instagram, “I have never regretted raising my voice for justice and against oppression, and I still don’t.”
Iranian journalist Nazila Maroufian was thrown in jail for interviewing Mahsa Amini’s father last year. After she was released, she posted a photo of herself without a headscarf and the message, “Don’t accept slavery, you deserve the best!” She is currently detained in an Iranian jail, and is now on a hunger strike, in protest against the sexual assault she has reportedly endured behind bars.
Alinejad has a great deal of difficulty understanding how Joe Biden was able to give $6 billion to the Iranian regime this past week when it’s responsible for this brutal oppression.
The Iranian regime is well aware of what this anniversary of Amini’s death could mean to the protest movement. The police and Morality Police are out in force in the major cities, looking to stop any protests before they start. There has been intermittent internet service the last few days in a bid to stop organizers from planning any protests.
So the protesters have changed tactics. Instead of masses of people marching in the streets, there are small groups of protesters who appear out of nowhere, chanting for a few minutes and then dispersing before authorities have the chance to arrest them.
Iranians' struggle to overturn the regime has gone on since then. pic.twitter.com/b1pwHMuA7x
— Violet 🇮🇪 #Iran sun & lion ☀️🦁 flag (@Daffodil27) September 16, 2023
If you watched that protest song, you might have noticed the huge number of bare-headed women walking in the streets. And all the film of dancing women was posted on social media in defiance of a regime that forbids women dancing alone.
Someone should inform the thugs and bullies in the Iranian government that you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. They are not going to force women to wear the hijab again no matter how many skulls they crack, women they beat, or protesters they shoot.