“Young Iranians can't stand the constraints imposed on them”

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“Young Iranians can't stand the constraints imposed on them”

An Iranian woman living in Turkey, holds up her hair after cutting it with a pair of scissors, during a protest outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul on September 21, 2022

Ten days After the death of a 22-year-old woman at the hands of Iranian vice police for “inappropriate wearing” of the Islamic headscarf, a new symbol of revolt is born in Iran, stoking the anger of protesters facing growing state repression.

Taking to the streets of the country, like thousands of others to demonstrate against the brutal death of Mahsa Amini, Hadis Najafi, 20, was shot six times in the head, neck and chest in the small town from Karaj, west of Tehran.

His death occurred last Thursday, but was only announced on Sunday by the journalist of Iranian origin, Masih Alinejad.

A video that has gone viral on social media shows the young woman tying her blonde hair before joining a crowd of other protesters.

According to Mahnaz Shirali, sociologist and political scientist, Hadis Najafi symbolizes the courage of Iranian women. Through their resistance to religious repression and a state that is particularly violent towards women, they have become an example for all women in the world, adds the Iran specialist in an interview with Tout un matin.

The expert also finds videos that have gone viral showing Iranian women cutting their hair in support of the protest movement very revealing.

It represents the encroachment of traditional values ​​of a patriarchal society that values ​​long hair, says Mahnaz Shirali.

“These young women, by cutting their hair, want to encroach on the patriarchal values ​​that have always suffocated women and which today have killed Mahsa Amini and Hadis Najafi. »

— Mahnaz Shirali, professor at Sciences Po, specialist in Iran

Ms. Shirali is also delighted that the Iranian protesters are supported by several of their male counterparts, a sign, according to her, of the vitality of Iranian civil society.

For the first time in 43 years, we see that Iranian men in turn support women and have in turn become defenders of the female cause, notes the sociologist. It shows that Iranian society is a living society despite 43 years of massive repression by a dictatorial state.

According to her, the current movement is a sign that Iranian youth are n do not adhere to the values ​​of the Islamic Republic of Iran, established in 1979.

Although they have known no other political regime, young Iranians, observes she grew up with social networks. It is this showcase that allows them to see another, freer way of life.

They do not support the constraints that the Islamic Republic imposes on them and suddenly they are completely in revolt, because they aspire to live like other young people of their age, she adds.

It is these same networks, notes the specialist, which offer great potential for creating social movements, allowing young people to organize and recruit.

The Iranian authorities are well aware of the power of social networks as a tool for mobilization. This explains why they decided to block access to Instagram and WhatsApp applications in the wake of the recent protests (Facebook and Twitter sites have already been banned for a long time in Iran).

This digital lock is in addition to more traditional repressive methods.

Human rights groups report that security forces fired pellets and live ammunition at participants who threw rocks, torched police cars and set fire to public buildings.

More than a thousand protesters have been arrested since the death of Mahsa Amini.

On Monday, authorities said they had arrested more than 450 rioters in the northern province of Mazandara alone. Two days earlier, authorities announced the arrest of more than 700 people in the neighboring province of Gilan.

Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders report and denounce for their part the arrest of 18 journalists since the beginning of the uprising, several of them during night raids on their homes and without warrant of arrest or explanation of the charges.

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Nilufar Hamedi, who visited the hospital where Mahsa Amini lay in a coma and helped alert the world to her plight, is among the 18 journalists detained.

According to the latest official Iranian toll, at least 41 people, including protesters and law enforcement personnel, have been killed since the protests began on September 17.

But according to the NGOIran Human Rights, the toll could be much heavier. The organization based in Oslo, Norway, reports 57 protesters killed.

Pro-government organizations held large rallies to defend the compulsory wearing of the Islamic headscarf, one of which took place on Sunday in Revolution Square in Tehran.

And everything indicates that the repression will intensify. On Sunday, ultra-conservative Prime Minister Ebrahim Raisi promised to act decisively with the demonstrators.

A call echoed by the head of the Iranian Judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Yejei . The latter threatened to show no leniency to the protesters and called on law enforcement to take strong action against those who undermine [public] security.

The Iranian regime's response to the protest movement is adding to tensions between Tehran and Western capitals.

During a press briefing, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, criticized the Iranian regime for its disregard for human rights and announced sanctions against dozens of Iranian individuals and entities, including the so-called morality police.

Earlier on Monday, the German government summoned Iran's ambassador to Berlin for a discussion on the crackdown on protests, a day after the European Union's top diplomat was condemned. Josep Borrell, on Sunday denounced the widespread and disproportionate use of force by Iranian authorities against nonviolent protesters.

Two days before, US President Joe Biden, expressed solidarity with the courageous women of Iran and denounced the violent repression of the demonstrations at the UN rostrum.

For his part, the Iran does not hesitate to attribute the organization of these demonstrations to foreign conspiracies, pointing the finger at its sworn enemy, the United States.

Iranian ministry spokesman of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, criticized the interventionist approach of the United States in the affairs of Iran, accusing Washington of supporting the rioters.

With information from AFP

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