Over the weekend, thousands of protesters from Los Angeles to Berlin joined marches of solidarity with Iranians against the oppressive Islamic Republic of Iran.
Protests are still ongoing in Iran seven weeks after 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini died after being beaten while in the custody of the regime’s “morality” police on Sept. 16. Amini was arrested for violating the regime’s strict dress code policy for women.
Amini’s death sparked the largest protests against the regime that Iran has seen in years. Regime forces have killed more than 200 protesters and activists throughout Iran
Around the world, protesters chanted the slogan, “Women, life, freedom!” which is widely used as the rallying cry of Iranian women since current demonstrations began.
The ayatollah regime has ruthlessly crushed previous protests in Iran. However, many in Iran and around the world hope this time will be different.
Aref Alvandi, an anti-regime protester in Washington, D.C., said their view that “this time is different because, in my opinion, it is led by the women. Women are the revolutionaries.”
Ramesh Sepehrrad, a protester interviewed by NBC News, urged the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to step in and increase its support of the oppressed Iranian people.
“Iranian people are not backing down. The Iranian regime has miscalculated their resolve for changing this regime, and we’re asking the White House to do the same,” Sepehrrad told the channel.
At least 80,000 protesters in Berlin marched recently in solidarity with Iran’s women, with the majority being exiled Iranian citizens protesting the regime’s oppression and flagrant human rights violations. Organizers of the Berlin protests believe that close to 100,000 people participated.
“It’s breathtaking; it’s amazing,” one unnamed Iranian protester in Berlin told BBC. “It’s the first time that so many people in our nation are united regardless of their political beliefs before revolution and after revolution. I am really proud.”
Protests and strikes continue and the initially women-led protests have spread to schools and universities across Iran, including in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Khomeini Shahr.
Iran International reported that “an increasing number of young Iranians are no longer afraid to confront the regime.”
“At Tehran’s Amirkabir University of Technology, female and male students openly defied the strictly imposed regime policy of gender segregation by sitting together in the university’s cafeteria and singing popular protest songs together,” the Iran International article says. “Perseverance and resistance of the students clearly shows that the repressive approach by the government will not work in against this generation born after 2000. Even if the clerical regime can silence their voices for a few days, it cannot stop their fundamental demands.”
Golnaz Esfandiari, a senior correspondent for media company Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said Iranian women identify strongly with Amini because she is the image of Iranian women – a young woman that could have been a sister, daughter or mother – any one of them.
“When Iranian woman see what happened to Mahsa, they think it could have happened to them,” Esfandiari said, “because you hardly find an Iranian woman who has not been either warned or detained or harassed by the morality police.”
“So we all know we’ve all had this experience,” she said. “I was talking to several women in Iran, and they told me – look, even if she wasn’t tortured, but she probably died from fear; she had a heart attack from fear – because they know how scary this is.”
Meanwhile, the regime, led by Iranian Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hossein Khamenei, has blamed the protests on external forces, especially the U.S. and Israel, perhaps seeking to divert attention from its own culpability in precipitating the unrest.
Iran has also imposed sanctions on several British institutions and individuals, accusing them of “inciting riots.” Institutions and people on Tehran’s British sanctions list include the intelligence organization Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Conservative Member of Parliament Stephen Crabb and BBC Persian news – which Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused of “deliberate actions in support of terrorism, incitement of violence and human rights violations.”
“The listed natural and legal persons have, among other things, carried out activities that have led to unrest, violence and terrorist acts against the Iranian nation,” the ministry alleged.