The Shah’s men were reluctant to accept the fact that the increasing proportion of women in Iran in the 1970s wore ‘chador’ (black outer garments) was an objection to the regime.
The mullahs who hold power today do not want to understand that women’s throwing off the headscarf and turning it into a torch is a manifesto that brings the end of the Islamic regime closer. As long as they continue to see this rebellion as “sedition”, “straying” and “conspiracy of the enemies”, they are bringing the inevitable end closer with their own hands. While ill-treatment, contempt for not dressing according to the rules, humiliation in the name of guidance, punishments ranging from whips to jail, beatings and torture against those who resist are proven by the experience of many women, denial of this only increases the anger.
The dynamism that women brought to the 1979 revolution unfortunately did not bring any gain to the women’s household. Chador gradually turned into a women’s prison in the new regime that would be called the “Islamic Republic” by eliminating the leftists. The issue is not only the impositions that come with the law of chastity and veiling. Inequalities against women created by penal and civil law; practices that make women half of men in right and punishment feed the anger underneath.
Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died of brain trauma caused by the beating after she was detained by the Irshad Patrol (morality police). They denied this too. They tried to exonerate those responsible with clipped footage. A woman has never died anywhere. His death resurrected anger, burned the streets!
Since September 16, there has been a wave of challenges against the system with very symbolic shots. Women cut their hair. Cutting hair is the degree of despair, a fundamental refusal. A woman who cuts her hair is called “porkurê” in Kurdish. The one whose hair is cut is the one who mourns. In 2014, Yazidi women were seen cutting their hair during the genocide perpetrated by ISIS in Shengal. Those who lost their loved ones, those who were raped, those whose wings were broken, cut their precious hair and put their pain in our faces. In history, there are also haircut actions that symbolize the anger of the Arab woman and her reproach against the male world.
THE SHAH’S BOOTS ARE AT THE FEET OF THE Mullahs
“There is no torture in the Islamic Republic, if it does, it will not be covered up, the responsible will not be forgiven.” I have heard this myself from the authorities.
Despite the footage captured on cameras in the streets, such defenses persist.
In 2018, when the streets of Iran got hot, I wrote; “The shah’s wickedness has lost its spongy nature to no longer wipe out the sins of his successors.”
The approach that sees violence, threats and restraint for the preservation of Islam was repeated during the “Green Movement” in 2009. Counter-violence produced by violence serves to justify “legal” forces, while it turns into heavy penalties for demonstrators. “Making mischief on earth”, “opposing God”, “interfering in fitna”… Is there any form of objection that cannot be thrown into this fire?
“Islamic Iran”, which turned the torture chamber where Savak’s opponents were held and forced to confess during the Shah period, into the Ibret Museum, carries materials to the lesson museums that will be opened after it.
At the entrance of the old Savak center in Tehran, where 8,500 people were tortured, there is a wax statue of Hussein Ferdust, then Intelligence Chief. Ferdust was sitting in the back seat of the official car, Keyhan is reading the newspaper. Headline: “The King is gone!” Keyhan’The current headlines of s are poisonous springs, raining bullets! At this rate, the new headline will be “Mullahs are gone”. When and how? Who knows?
Unlike the Shah era, the Islamic regime has had very powerful tools in 43 years. When the Shah’s army was dissolved in the face of the masses, there was no parallel army like the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards), molded with an ideology and fortified with the country’s most valuable economic assets. There was no militia like Besic, which was organized like an octopus everywhere, from unions to professional organizations, from schools to mosques and neighborhoods. In addition, the Ayatollahs, to whom people declared their allegiance due to the Shiite faith, also guaranteed mass mobilization. Madrasa and bazaar; They were two decisive factors in the 1979 break.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE MEDRESA AND THE BAZAAR?
Today, despite the economic crisis, the market is silent and unresponsive. Maybe it has lost its resistant character; bazar ceased to be bazar. So, what does the needle of the mullahs show in the face of pressure from the street? Are they all behind the monolithic system? Despite the strong position of the religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thanks to the velayet-i faqih system, it does not come to the conclusion that the madrasa is monolithic. The ulema in Kum and Mashhad seem to save on the word. What will happen tomorrow, of course, is unknown.
Within Iran, there are different assessments of Amini’s death among the reformist and conservative wings. Some think that the Irshad Patrols should be spruced up or removed. Some say that the current situation is unsustainable and that “reform is inevitable” to prevent the division of society. These are suggestions from within the system. Since the regime puts women’s veiling on the axis of its goal of “building an ideal society”, it cannot turn away from this. There is a fear that it will cause a legitimacy crisis. Over the years, women have eroded the rules by sliding their headscarves back or shortening their sleeves. There were tides between tolerating it and suppressing it. In 2005, Irshad Patrols were activated to end the violations with a systematic inspection. Duties were entrusted to many public institutions, including ministries, within the framework of the law on chastity and veiling. These measures were also the result of the fear that the end of the rope would slip. In fact, whatever the Islamic Republic saw as “social and moral degradation”, the compulsory cover never diminished them. It wasn’t enough to cover it either. The social welfare, justice, freedom and anti-corruption goals promised by the revolution could not go beyond slogans. People were pushed into more dishonesty to win or exist.
Do intra-system discussions bring about a change? Considering the attitude of the vigorous forces, there is not much hope. While the Revolutionary Guards are determined to maintain stability, they call on the judiciary to take tougher measures against provocative elements. The practice of responding with the masses to the demonstrators is also repeated. With the demonstrations of millions against the mass demonstrations in 2009 and later, the guidance authority declared the limit!
The leaders of the 2009 anger were political groups and elites. Today, there is no leadership, no program, no pioneering cadres. Amini’s fire represents an anger in which women come forward with their own demands. In this regard, it opens a special topic. Of course, there are also economic and political motivations. When it comes to economic-based challenges, the opposition front grows by including conservative segments. In 2018, the first explosions took place in conservative fortresses such as Kum and Mashhad. In other words, the widespread unrest accumulated by mismanagement, corruption and poverty also includes the masses who do not have a problem with the Islamic character of the regime. In the countryside, economic or ethnic-based objections are melting away on their own periphery. When it reaches cities such as Tehran and Tabriz, the color of the work changes.
Today’s demonstrations are part of the general outrage. The least politicized sections of the society express the resentment accumulated by the imposition of the veil.
More importantly, anger evolves. While the Constitutional Guardians Council prevented candidates viewed with suspicion by the system from entering legal political processes, power changed hands between reformist and conservative wings. Those whose loyalty was suspected, banned and considered out of the system also reflected their objections to the ballot box through the reformist wings. In 2009, when the reformist candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Huseyin Mousavi were placed under house arrest, the rise of resentful masses brought forward the concern for legitimacy in the regime. After Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Rouhani, as a middle-class mullah, served to keep the reformist sections in the system for two terms. But when none of his promises were successful, the conservatives took matters into their own hands.
With each new wave of demonstrations, symbols of the regime are targeted more boldly. While President Ibrahim Reisi showed a photo of Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force, killed by the Americans in his speech at the UN General Assembly, demonstrators in Iran were tearing up the portrait of the deceased. Considering the millions at Soleimani’s funeral in 2020, the sharpness of today’s challenge is evident. People smash posters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei in public buildings. A serious radicalization of anger. While the policies of governments were criticized in previous demonstrations, now the system is directly targeted.
HOW MANY MORE TURNS CAN BE TAKEN WITH THE REGIME’S MANEUVERABILITY?
Generations who have not seen the Shah era do not believe in the justifications of the Islamic Republic, which has gained legitimacy through the evils of the past. People are breaking out of the system piece by piece. Velayet-i faqih does not mean anything for new generations living in other worlds where they are not physically present.
Iran’s own internal reality is veiled by external realities. The enemy who wants to settle accounts with Iran is not few. They do not stay idle. The regime can also point to the initiatives coming from the US-Israel-Saudi axis and produce consent. As the demonstrations gained momentum, the Revolutionary Guards’ bombing of the Komala Party and (Iranian) Kurdistan Democratic Party elements stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan gives an idea of the strategy adopted.
By portraying the demonstrations as a conspiracy to create strife and chaos, they can overcome this wave by increasing the dose of violence and punishment. Just for a while. Anger does not suffocate by suffocating.