Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Iran - the struggle continues

 The protest movement in Iran continues to grow in intensity.

Historian and Iran specialist Jonathan Piron, says the government seems more inflexible than ever, contrary to the prosecutor general’s announcement that the morality police had been disbanded.

“The morality police haven’t been abolished in Iran,” he said. “The prosecutor general’s words were ambiguous and were misinterpreted. The obligation for women to wear headscarves is not up for debate and authorities haven’t made any concessions on this point. They are continuing policies of oppression.” 

Relaxing obligations for women to wear the hijab, first enforced in 1983, does not seem like a step the authorities are willing to take.

 “The regime cannot go back on the decision to make headscarves mandatory for women,” said David Rigoulet-Roze, researcher and Middle East specialist at France’s Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS). “If it did so, it would be as if it were denouncing itself. The hijab is part of its DNA. From this perspective, the regime cannot be reformed, because it cannot change its very identity.” 

It is hard to envision a scenario that would see Iran’s female protesters start wearing headscarves again, said Rigoulet-Roze. 

“They will no longer wear the veil, preferring to risk their lives. The point of no return has probably been reached. Even women who still want to wear headscarves support those who don’t and the freedom of choice that they are fighting for.” 

Rigoulet-Roze fears that as more women remove their headscarves as a symbol of defiance, violent reprisals will increase.  

The statement announcing the abolition of the morality police is likely to be an attempt by authorities to divert attention, especially since it came the day before a planned three-day national strike.  

“It seems like a way to test public reaction with a statement that is deliberately unclear and enigmatic,” said Rigoulet-Roze. The authorities’ announcement “happened just before the three-day strikes were confirmed for the following week on social media, so perhaps it was a test to see if that type of announcement could defuse the situation.” 

Since protests began in September, at least 448 people have been killed and 18,000 imprisoned in Iran, human rights organisations have reported.  

Yet widespread dissent continues.  Strikes went ahead in shops and universities in multiple cities, such as Shahin Shahr near Isfahan, where the movement is strongly supported. Workers in a petrochemical factory in Mahshahr also went on strike.

According to Iranian sociologist Azadeh Kian, the Iranian government is now facing a “revolution in the making...The movement is growing, not getting weaker.”

“Young people aren’t afraid anymore, unlike previous generations. The fear has switched sides, as they say today in Iran,” said Rigoulet-Roze. In fact, many young protesters are now supported by their parents and grandparents. “The situation is totally unprecedented, even if there has yet to be the convergence of struggles that brings together society as a whole,” Rigoulet-Roze added. “The tipping point hasn’t been reached, but it isn't far away.”

Iran’s protest movement: 'The tipping point isn't far away' (

The International in Farsi

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