It has long simmered beneath the surface, when the Kurdish woman Masha Amini (22) died after being tortured by the Iranian moral police, it caught fire. And her death is nothing less than a wake-up call for the Iranian people.
But what was her crime? The hijab did not cover all her hair.
Now there are demonstrations in all of Iran’s 31 provinces. So far, about fifty people have been killed, including five from the Iranian security forces.
A Kurdish Women Beaten to Death by Law Enforcement
Masha Amini, who was from the northern part of the country, was on her first visit to Tehran. As a Kurd, she belonged to a minority that is often harassed by the authorities, not least because the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims.
Law enforcement which is responsible for protecting people, that same entity has killed Masha for a small mistake. Her hair was a little uncovered! Is her mistake taken into consideration or her ethnicity? Both I guess.
Ethnicity Blurred Because of Humanity
But ethnicity didn’t matter as thousands of Iranians of both genders took to the streets on Friday, September 13, when news of the Kurdish woman’s death broke. And something new happened: it was women who went to the front. Many threw away the hijab, and some burned the hat they hated. Some also cut off their long hair.
What happened was quickly shared on social media, where images of protesters setting fire to cars and rubbish bins were also shown. In the holy city of Qom, they ransacked statues of Iran’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the liquidated Major General of the Revolutionary Guard, Qasem Soleimani. He was the commander of the al-Quds force and led international military operations before a US drone killed him in January 2020.
This is the biggest protest in Iran since the green movement scared the shit out of Iranian authorities in 2009. The background was the re-election of Shia hawk Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
What Triggered the Protest?
Is it the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman which triggered the demonstration or there is something else added to the fat protest?
It is highly likely that Masha Amini’s death triggered the protest, but there are some other issues as well which has fueled the demonstration for sure.
Iran’s economy is in bad shape due to US sanctions, mismanagement, corruption, billions in support of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, and the ongoing, costly war in Syria. But the conflict also targets the strict religious laws that were passed in 1981, two years after the Iranian revolution.
Many are simply fed up with the entire religious system, and the demonstrators, especially the women, seem to show far more outrage now than during previous demonstrations.
An interesting point is that it is now also being demonstrated in the deeply religious cities of Qom and Mashhad. But we think there is nothing high to expect from this.
In the Iranian countryside and poor areas of the cities, the support for religious leaders is strong, not least in southern Tehran. When the authorities mobilized for counter-demonstrations last week, it was women dressed in black, full-covering chadors who took the lead. They shouted slogans and carried placards in support of those in power.
So yes, I would say, both its political scenario and Masha Amini’s death have triggered the protest all around the country.
Role of the West
Declarations of support for the regime-critical demonstrators are coming from most of the Western world. It is good and important when it comes to supporting and markings from the grassroots in various countries. But we should not forget that the western world does nothing if there are no benefits.
Iran’s long foe, the United States of America has a balancing act this time unlike before. US President Joe Biden has come out hard against the Iranian authorities’ strong reactions, in contrast to what his predecessor Barack Obama did during the protests in 2009. Perhaps it was wise for Obama to lie a little low because it is the Iranians themselves who have to sort things out. And I also believe, this is the way forward, otherwise, Iran will fall into an invader’s hands like many others in the past.
Also, if there is too much foreign interference, the Iranian authorities will say they are right when they claim that the West is behind the demonstration. For the last couple of decades, most nations remain negative towards the USA, primarily because of the Americans’ many military adventures in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Moreover, the narrative of the CIA’s coup against the popular Prime Minister Muhammad Mosaddeq in 1953 is still alive and well.
How Iranian Authority is Handling the Matter?
For now, they have blocked the internet so that people will not communicate on social media. But that is unlikely to stop the protesters. The security forces and the hated paramilitary organization Basij have used violence, but by Iranian standards, they have so far reacted relatively mildly. President Ebrahim Raisi has threatened to use all means. If he does, it could get bloody.
Is it a Wake-up Call for the Iranian People?
The 22 years old Kurdish woman Masha Amini’s death is a trigger to the event and it is such a wake-up call for the Iranian people that have shaken the world. The shout-out is the result of decades-long oppression of the regime that has been brutal towards ethnic Sunni communities and women in different parts of the country. The demonstration is not just about the hijab, it is also about the oppression, corruption, and economic condition of the country.
It is still unknown what is going to happen. How things are going to change in Iran. But it is sure that Amini’s death is going to make a change that was far needed for the people of Iran. At least, her death won’t go in vain for the greater good of humanity.