December 9, 2023

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Protests in Iran over the demise of a 22-year-old lady detained by the nation’s morality police have stretched into a 3rd week, even after authorities disrupted the web, deployed riot troops and attacked perceived enemies overseas.

That playbook of repression has labored earlier than, however the spontaneous demonstrations over the demise of Mahsa Amini persist and hold altering. In a single latest incident, highschool college students chased away a hard-liner whereas well-known politicians and actresses overseas now are reducing off their hair with scissors, following Iranian ladies protesters who’ve accomplished the identical.

  • A woman cuts her hair during a protest against the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini, in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by Iran's morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran's strict Islamic dress code. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The longevity and metamorphosis of the protests pose a brand new menace to Tehran, one unseen for the reason that 2009 Inexperienced Motion protests introduced hundreds of thousands to the road.

The seemingly spontaneous and leaderless protests — largely fueled by the center and higher courses — share a number of the identical strengths and weaknesses of these over a decade in the past. Iran’s theocracy finally crushed them over time. Whether or not it can do the identical now stays in query.

Getting a real image of what’s occurring throughout Iran, a nation of over 80 million individuals that’s two-and-a-half occasions bigger than the U.S. state of Texas, is tough even in quiet occasions, given governmental restrictions.

Now, it’s much more troublesome. Authorities have detained not less than 35 reporters and photographers for the reason that demonstrations started Sept. 17, in line with the Committee to Shield Journalists. Most info comes from simply seconds-long video clips activists handle to add to the web.

The protests started on the burial website of Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish lady detained by the roving forces of Iran’s morality police. Since the election of hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi final 12 months, morality patrols have grown extra aggressive, with movies circulating of officers manhandling younger ladies over their garments or free obligatory headscarves, often called hijabs.

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Iran’s authorities insists Amini wasn’t abused, with state tv airing footage of her collapsing at a police station and receiving care. Nonetheless, no video of her arrest or transportation to the police station has emerged at the same time as Tehran started equipping cops with physique cameras 5 years in the past. That, in addition to a fast burial reportedly demanded by safety officers, fueled anger in her hometown of Saqqez, some 460 kilometers (285 miles) west of Tehran.

At that demonstration and subsequent ones throughout the nation, protesting ladies have twirled their headscarves and screamed in Farsi, “Dying to the Dictator!”, referring to Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It’s a harmful cry in a rustic the place costs of being a “mofsed-e-filarz,” or a “corrupter of the Earth,” by political dissent can carry a demise sentence in Iran’s closed-doors Revolutionary Courtroom.

The total breadth of the demonstrations and crackdown stays unclear. An Related Press tally of experiences in state-run and state-linked media reveals there have been not less than 1,900 arrests linked to the protests. Demonstrations have been reported in not less than 50 cities, cities and villages.

State tv final urged not less than 41 individuals had been killed within the demonstrations as of Sept. 24. Within the practically two weeks since, there’s been no replace from Iran’s authorities.

An Oslo-based group known as Iran Human Rights estimates not less than 154 individuals have been killed, although that features an estimated 63 individuals killed in violence within the jap Iranian metropolis of Zahedan. Iranian authorities have described the Zahedan violence as involving unnamed separatists, although Iran Human Rights stated the incident started as a protest over rape allegations towards a neighborhood police officer.

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In the meantime, Iran has launched cross-border assaults on Kurdish separatists in Iraq as effectively and has insisted the demonstrations are a international plot — all apparently designed to distract from the widespread anger over Iran’s obligatory hijab.

Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the chaotic years that instantly adopted, demonstrations have been a typical characteristic throughout the nation. Many concentrate on native points quite than nationwide political change, reminiscent of farmers upset in regards to the drying up of the nation’s water provides, lecturers wanting larger salaries or pensioners offended after shedding their financial savings in extensively criticized privatization drives.

Pupil protests struck Tehran in 1999. Financial protests swept the nation on the finish of 2017 and into early 2018. And in 2019, anger over the federal government eliminating subsidies on gasoline equally sparked nationwide demonstrations.

In contrast to these prior three waves, this time hard-liners management each lever of energy throughout Iran’s presidency, its judiciary and its parliament, that means there’s nobody else for them accountable. The identical occurred within the 2009 Inexperienced Motion demonstrations, sparked by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election amid widespread allegations of vote rigging.

The 2009 demonstrations additionally targeted on city areas and predominantly noticed middle- and upper-class protesters. The present protests have seen comparable teams of individuals collaborating, with witnesses saying they’ve heard not one of the financial chants from the latest rounds of demonstrations. Iranian celebrities and soccer stars even have spoken out.

Nonetheless, there are nonetheless clear variations between 2009 and at the moment. The 2009 demonstrations noticed hundreds of thousands take to the road. Thus far, the present protests haven’t galvanized such massive crowds all of sudden.

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The 2009 demonstrations additionally lasted for months earlier than slowing down, finally ending in 2011 when authorities arrested their leaders amid the Arab Spring protests. The present demonstrations have but to succeed in the four-week mark

Essential moments lie forward. Iran seems bracing for Saturday, the beginning of the Iranian week, when college college students ought to resume courses in particular person. Final Sunday, safety forces fired tear fuel and pellet weapons at college students demonstrating at Sharif College of Expertise in Tehran, in line with the New York-based Middle for Human Rights in Iran. That college and others went to on-line courses for the remainder of the week.

If demonstrations proceed in school rooms and streets throughout Iran, Iran’s hard-line authorities should resolve what to do subsequent. Thus far, there’s no signal that they’ll again down, nonetheless.


EDITOR’S NOTE — Jon Gambrell, the information director for the Gulf and Iran for The Related Press, has reported from every of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations, Iran and different places the world over since becoming a member of the AP in 2006. Observe him on Twitter at


This story has been corrected to alter a reference to the violence in Zahedan as springing from a protest.