Few faculty members and students will forget their time at the Isfahan Technical University in central Iran. Hundreds of students – men and women – Last month, we marched side by side along a tree-lined avenue, Clapping and chanting words that can now be heard at every Iranian protest around the world, from Vancouver to Berlin to Tehran.Azadi, Azadi, Azadi.” Freedom, freedom, freedom.
But at the university protest, students used a different slogan, which struck a deeper sympathy among Iranian clerics. Yazid is now the IRGC,” they cried, referring to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Husayn, the beloved grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was assassinated in 680 AD in Karbala, Iraq, at the hands of a tyrannical ruler named Yazid. Students told authorities that the Iranian government now represented Yazid’s repressive rule and called on Husayn for help.
Tehran has frequently used the powerful Karbala narrative in the past to criticize contemporary issues such as US hegemony and militarism in the Middle East. The fact that students are repurposing the slogan is a scathing rebuke of deep-seated frustration in Iran.
US sanctions, combined with economic mismanagement and corruption, have led to a shrinking Iranian economy that has seen no real growth in the past decade. In 2022, inflation will exceed 50% and prices will continue to rise steadily, but household purchasing power will decline and GDP growth will slow. Rising oil prices also constrained growth.
A 19-year-old industrial engineering student at Isfahan University of Technology told The Globe and Mail that she could not participate in the protests at her school because she was afraid to participate in street protests. said it was a decision she made after years of hopes for political and social reform by government officials had failed to materialize. We have not identified the source of the information.
University protests have erupted across the country since mid-September after the death of 22-year-old Martha Amini, who was detained by Iran’s “morality police” for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. one of the activities.. At least 186 people were killed by security forces in the ensuing crackdown, according to Iranian human rights activists. The protests are now in their eighth week, with some reports that 14,000 people, including more than 40 students, have been arrested.
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Hearing of Amini’s death was furious but not shocking, the engineering student said, adding that while she herself never interacted with the moral police, several of her friends experienced verbal and physical brutality. He says he has done
Susan Safaverdi, a professor of political science at Islamic Azad University’s Central Tehran Campus, testifies to the failure of the Iranian government to listen to calls for change despite the protests.
“Students are saying, ‘You should see us.’ We are here. Maybe we are different, but we exist and we are here,” Safaverdi said. The professor told The Globe. “Governments have a responsibility to see people’s needs and listen to those voices. It’s important to think freely to respect people who are different from us.” .”
if you are a protester Talking about freedom, she said. It should not be defined only for those who fit our model. “
The call to ban the mandatory hijab symbolizes many needs that most Iranians have, she added.
Professor Safaverdi also applauds the female-led nature of the movement. Women have become the face of the protest movement, and their call for justice and accountability is a source of “light” and hope.
In an article published last month on the independent digital news website Zanan Diplomacy (Diplomatic Women), which she founded, she urged authorities (men and women) to question the justice or religion of Iranian women who do not comply with the mandatory hijab. and said: It violates Islamic teachings.
“According to the teachings of the Prophet of Islam, no one should insult human dignity, especially since it is considered inappropriate to insult a woman’s dignity. The Prophet’s narrations do not insult the dignity of those who wear or do not wear the hijab, or insult those who believe or do not believe in a religion. It shows that you are not.”
Prophet Muhammad was pure in morals and teachings, she added. “He was soft-spoken and not intimidating even to his enemies, so that decorum must continue. Some women do, but this is wrong.
According to a 2019 Human Rights Watch report, other Iranians have pointed to the impact of US sanctions, which have compromised Tehran’s ability to finance humanitarian imports, including life-saving medicines. severely restricted.
“People are frustrated by a decade of economic sanctions and the growing backlash of the political and social system,” said Barzin, a Tehran-based journalist for the economic daily. The Globe identifies him by his name alone because he fears state reprisals.
“I feel a responsibility to participate more actively in politics because the alternative of doing nothing and letting the conservatives run the country has become so dangerous.
“I want hardliners to understand that they cannot control an entire country by themselves and that they need to involve other groups and segments of society in the political process and govern the country,” he said. said.
A 32-year-old journalist from Tehran who has taken part in previous civil protests said Iran faces a new moment.
She said the current protests are part of a broader revolutionary movement by Iran’s younger generation, who are not afraid of the police and are willing to sacrifice their lives for change.
The protests may eventually be quelled, but the impact will remain with younger generations of Iranians, she added.