The Iranian Islamic Iranian regime is struggling to crush a massive wave of nimble and durable protests, unlike any the Islamic Republic has faced in the past. The leaderless movement has grown in strength despite increasingly harsh crackdowns, relying on unprecedented solidarity between ethnic minorities, different religious groups and men’s solidarity with women.
The protests were sparked by the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini in September after being arrested by morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly. Mahsa an ethnic Kurd from Saqez, in northwest Iran died in police custody under unclear circumstances. Protests in Saqez spread to Tehran and other cities throughout the country and is now in their third month. Despite the violent response by the police who have killed 300 protestors so far, the protests show no signs of stopping.
At the frontlines of the demonstrations are women and young people — high school students walking out of school on strike, women tearing off their hijab and cutting their hair in public as an act of mourning and defiance.
Despite earlier viral claims, the government has not sentenced the estimated 15,000 people detained during the protests to death, as Al-Jazeera explained earlier in the week. That misunderstanding likely comes from a statement that 227 of Iran’s 290 parliamentarians signed stating that protesters “waging war against God” should be dealt with in a way that would “teach an example.”
“But they’re not going to execute them all,” Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group’s Iran project director told Vox via email. “If the past is prelude, the regime is likely to cruelly execute a few to teach others a lesson and deter them from coming to the streets.”