“From Beirut to Tehran, one revolution that does not die,” people chanted on the streets of Beirut during a wave of protests against Lebanon’s corrupt politicians in October 2019. It was catchy, it rhymed in Arabic, and it was an expression of a surprising new sense of solidarity among members of a young generation connected across borders.
The protesters were not chanting in support of the revolution that turned Iran into a theocracy in 1979, but against an Islamic Republic that oppresses its people at home and wields power well beyond its borders. They were singling out a foreign government that upholds dysfunctional political systems in other countries so that it can manipulate them to its advantage and deploys proxy militias that mete out violence from Baghdad to Beirut against those who rise in opposition to Tehran’s dark worldview. The protests in Lebanon, which were only partially focused on Iran, were taking place just as Iraqis were marching through the streets across their country, openly protesting Iran’s stranglehold over their politics, their economy, and their clerical establishment. Meanwhile, Iranians, angered by an increase in fuel prices, were chanting “Death to the dictator” and setting dozens of government sites on fire.
This explosion of anger, domestically and regionally, was one of the most complex challenges Iran had to face since 1979. Brutal, lethal repression did away with some of the protesters; by March 2020, the pandemic sent the rest of them home.
Protesters are back in the streets across Iran, picking up where they left off two years ago, their lives and prospects having deteriorated in the interim. And just as in 2019, we are witnessing expressions of solidarity across the Middle East, where many, impressed by the courage of Iranian women in particular, are cheering the protesters on. [Continue reading…]
At least 92 people have been killed since the Iranian government cracked down on the protests, the nongovernmental organization Iran Human Rights Group said Sunday. The government has so far acknowledged 41 deaths.
Thousands protested Saturday in Los Angeles and Toronto, Canada, both home to large Iranian communities, in solidarity with the antiveil movement in the Islamic republic. Demonstrations have also taken place in New Zealand, Seoul, Paris, London and elsewhere.
Some protesters pulled down street signs at two central locations in Tehran on Saturday, according to footage authenticated by Storyful, which is owned by News Corp., parent company of The Wall Street Journal. The signs said “revolution” and “Islamic Republic” in Farsi, referring to the 1979 revolution that led to the creation of the current regime.
Authorities have tried to quell the protests by using closed-circuit TV to track down protesters, according to footage on state TV. Plainclothes police officers have also infiltrated protests, according to footage on social media and a witness. When one local resident approached a protest Saturday in Tehran, one man who looked like a student in blue jeans and T-shirt approached him, identified himself as a security officer and asked to see his smart phone for footage of the demonstration.
“I didn’t have anything in my phone,” said the resident. “Otherwise I would have lost my life.” [Continue reading…]