“Iran will never be the same” is what many observers agree on. The wind of change is finally blowing in a nation that has been the scene of many protests throughout the years. But after 25 days, the current uprising foretells the beginning of a new era.
Four weeks after anti-regime protests, sparked by the morality police’s murder of a young girl, erupted across Iran, the demonstrations have now morphed into a nationwide uprising.
From the start, the regime has resorted to maximum violence to quash the protests, but it has failed miserably. On Friday, September 30, security forces opened fire on protesters in the southeastern city of Zahedan, killing more than 90, including children. Iranians now refer to this incident as the “bloody Friday.”
Days before the “bloody Friday,” the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, rushed to the scene to boost the morale of his demoralized forces by threatening the protesters and praising the brutality of security forces who have so far gunned down over 400 citizens, including many teenagers.
Nevertheless, the protests continued on Saturday and Sunday in dozens of cities across Iran. University students held rallies and chanted slogans against Khamenei and his regime.
The nationwide uprising had a turning point on Saturday, October 8. Calls for widespread demonstrations were welcomed by Iranians, and protests flared across the country anew. Shop owners in dozens of cities joined a broadening strike, and students joined protests and refused to show up in classes. Streets in Tehran and other cities were clogged with cars honking their horns in solidarity with the uprising. Protesters clashed with security forces and, in some cases, forced them to flee.
The regime’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, visited al-Zahra University with high hopes of addressing a crowd of supporters. Yet, he faced students who heckled him while chanting, “get lost, murderer!”
October 8 – Tehran, #Iran
Regime President Ebrahim Raisi visited Al-Zahra University today. The students responded by chanting:
"Raisi get lost!"
"Mullahs must get lost!"#IranRevolution2022#مهسا_امینی #نیکا_شاکرمی pic.twitter.com/83aUCt11O7
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) October 8, 2022
Protests erupted on Saturday while the regime’s forces were on full alert. Yet, they couldn’t contain demonstrations. The regime’s failure to quell the protests has now sounded the alarm among officials. “Society has put off fear. People’s fear has now turned to anger,” Nosratollah Tajik, a former diplomat told the state-run Bahar news website on October 8.
The current uprising will not end, no matter what the regime does; it is nationwide and represents the breadth of all Iranians’ grievances, primarily freedom. As protests expand across the nation, the regime faces a deadlock as to where to deploy its oppressive forces. The widespread scale of protests has stretched the security forces thin.
Women and youths, two disenfranchised and oppressed yet large parts of Iranian society, are the driving force behind these protests. Khamenei and his regime have many things to lose, facing a population standing its ground and having nothing more to lose.
Besides, as officials have acknowledged, the Iranian opposition, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and its “Resistance Units” act as catalysts for the uprising.
This fact has been repeatedly acknowledged by regime officials, including cleric Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a member of the Expediency Council. “In the meantime, some were deceived by the enemies, including the Hypocrites (MEK), like all the past seditions. Behind all this is the desire to overthrow the system by the Hypocrites and America,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Tasnim news agency on October 1.
Iranians chant on streets of Tehran and other cities, “Don’t call these protests, this is a revolution.” Iran is indeed at the cusp of a revolution. The time has come for the international community to choose the right side of history. The people of Iran are entitled to the same right of self-defense and resistance as any other nation, and the international community should live up to its moral and legal obligations to recognize these rights. Iranians are ready to embrace their bright future and attain freedom at any cost. The onus is now on the international community to stand with the people of Iran, and not their oppressors.