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Guest Blogger

Young Iranians Fighting the Mullahs Reminds Me Of The Last Days Of Communists

December 7, 2022
6 min read
Young woman and men have been at the forefront of the protest movement that has gripped Iran for 12 weeks.
Young woman and men have been at the forefront of the protest movement that has gripped Iran for 12 weeks.

Gordafarid is a woman living in Iran. From now on she will offer twice a week her insights about developments in Iran.

While studying sociology before the ousting of the Shah in 1979, I was a sort of sympathizer of the leftist Marxist camps wherever they were. Retrospectively thinking, as a septuagenarian woman, I can say that what my generation struggled for is not comparable with "Woman, Life, Freedom", the slogan chanted by young girls and endorsed by young men. In fact, as you will read below, Iranian society is now inside out; I mean, NO more of the duplicity, double character and hypocrisy that were imposed during the postrevolutionary period by the Islamic theocratic regime.

Now the brave-hearted people across the country dare to speak out of their minds in the streets and from the windows of their apartments in high-rising buildings, at the expense of their daily routines, their earnings and above all their health.

I and my like-minded educated fellow citizens, before the so-called Islamic Revolution in 1979, when we chanted "Freedom ", we meant liberation from imperialism. Like many others nowadays, when I look at the post-1979 period I realize that we were wasting our time by isolating our country from the international community and norms in the name of independence-seeking. Now, in the wake of more than 80 days of bravery and heroism shown by young Iranians, an old woman and late bloomer in politics like me has discovered that during the prerevolutionary period we did not appreciate individual Freedom and its vital importance. Back then, the intellectuals were obsessed with what was going on in North Vietnam and the Palestinian cause. The spirit of today's Iran can be felt by the slogan chanted in all protest and unrest outbursts since 2009: “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I sacrifice my life for Iran".

When I observe a 16-year-old girl taking to the street, waving her scarf in the air, turning like an agile whirling dervish and chanting "Death to the dictator" or "Death to Khamenei", I can only admire her. And the muscular, athletic young man taking risks to struggle with empty hands against riot police in full gears too. Universities campuses across the country are the scenes of protests against the whole regime, from top to bottom. Islamic regime officials deny that any "protester" has been killed by riot police or security agents. They call those who have been killed “thugs”, “hooligans” and “terrorists”. They also blame most of the deaths on suicide and terrorists. But just take a look at the hundreds of parents and families of the protesters congregating outside of Evin and Fashafouyeh prisons. They’re not "thugs" or "terrorists”, they are ordinary Iranians from various walks of society whose children are engaged in both diurnal and nocturnal protests.

By diurnal protests, I mean high school girls chanting anti-establishment slogans and returning home at around 3 p.m. in Tehran and many other cities and towns across the country. And by nocturnal protests, I mean people gathering in any place possible, making bonfires, singing songs such as " For normal life...", composed by Sherwin Hajipour, and using any other mean to fuel their emotions and their hatred against the despotic but doomed regime.

High-rise buildings were and remain safe havens for those who shout from the top of their voices “Death to Khamenei”, etc. But it’s not so safe anymore, at least in my neighborhood in southwestern Tehran, where three doorkeepers were arrested last week simply because they had refused to be informants. They were supposed to report to the security agents where the chants come from.

The wife of one the doorkeepers told me, “The security agents stormed our small apartment in the parking lot of the building at midnight and arrested my husband at gunpoint. We are scared to death and we do not know what will happen to my husband. Our teenage daughter continues participating in daily protests before coming back home from school. And I am worried that she might get arrested too."

President Ebrahim Raisi and Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani made speech to appease the university students, but in vain. The argument of the regime is: "Out of over 3.5 million university students, only less than 5,000 are politically active throughout the country, so they do not represent the entire student population".

The counterargument is that the student protests are only the tip of the iceberg. Analyst Abbas Abdi rightly argued: “If the overwhelming majority of Iranians were not dissatisfied and a great gap did not exist between the I.R. of Iran and the people, the protests would not linger so many weeks after Mahsa' death".

As I am writing, ex-President Mohammad Khatami calls for" good governance". Almost a week ago, Alireza Beheshti, the former political adviser of Mirhossian Mosavi (eds: a former presidential candidate under house arrest for more than a decade) announced that Mosavi called for a "constituent assembly".

In a society, when two well-known politicians call for a big, wholistic change in the status quo, we can conclude that the protesters are not "handful and sporadic rioters" as the state-backed media claim. On the contrary, now that the agile, rapid reacting protesters, in small- and medium-sized groups, braving shutgun pellets and live bullets, take to the streets and insist on their right to choose what they wear and what they think, I am ashamed to admit my mass-oriented ideology before and after 1979, until the collapse of the Soviet Union when I lived in Czechoslovakia and started reading Milan Kundera’s novels. To be honest, I confess that the Islamic revolution incorporated many precepts by Iranian Stalinist Marxists who advocated various topics in the pre- and post-revolutionary periods.

The ruling theocratic regime in Iran categorically rejects citizens’ individual rights. For the regime, the people are "subjects" to be religiously, socially and politically brainwashed and reeducated so that they would become obedient and devotees of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

For the first time in contemporary history of the Middle East, and Iran in particular, a slogan addresses modernity through a new and unprecedented concept: the emancipation of women. This new connotation of Freedom was beyond our understanding when I was young.

The propaganda machines of the Islamic regime in Iran -- IRIB, Nournews, IRNA, Fars, Tasnim, ISNA – are constantly trying to prove that protests are financially, militarily and politically sponsored by the Mossad, CIA, MI6 and the French and German intelligence services, and are supported by Saudi Arabia. State-backed media in Iran show shops and other businesses opened as usual and that a handful of "rioters create problems for the people, vandalize public and private property and above all kill innocent citizens, and then put the blame on riot police, security agents, Revolutionary Guards and plainclothes vigilantes".

To demonstrate how deeply rooted and widespread the protests are, it is sometimes better to listen to the Iranian diaspora who have come together despite all their diversities and differences. And above all, narratives in social networks are verified by IranWire and other independent media based abroad.

I must admit that there is still a long way to go but the protests are to be continued. My living experiences in the capitals of the former Eastern Bloc and in the long line outside Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow point to better days to come in Iran too. Bear in mind that nobody predicted the end of the Communist Bloc until the eve of the Soviet Union’s collapse.



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