There’s only that much time and attention that you can give to things (as clearly evidenced by my school closure fail this morning), so I have no idea what’s happening in Iran. I know there are protests, I know what provoked them but I have no idea what the protesters are trying to achieve. Usually, when a protest is provoked by a specific egregious event, it takes people a bit of time to define what they want to happen. In Ukraine in 2014, the government murdered a group of unarmed students, which provoked the protests. Soon enough, the protesters figured out that what they really wanted was a functioning democracy and they got one. Also they got war but democracy never comes cheaply.
Does anybody know what the Iranian protesters want at this point? Democracy? A secular state? A hijab ban? Something else?
3 thoughts on “Iranian Protests”
“know what the Iranian protesters want at this point?”
I remember following the last big protests in Iran a few years ago and talking about it with an Iranian colleague. From what the colleague sadi (and what I found out on my own) seemed that the protests are fueled by the young who want a more open, democratic, and especially a more secular state. There are also specific economic issues (including the government diverting money to external causes while unemployment and drug addiction and other dysfunction soars).
Overall the situation reminded me of Poland in the 1970s early 80s…. everybody knows the system is tied to a failed ideology and has to change but no one knows how to get to there from here.
So things kind of chug along and then every few years events happen that lead to mass protests which are violently put down (along with occasional conciliatory gestures from the government).
One of the big differences is that, unlike Poland, as of yet there is no power block within the system that recognizes the need for change or is wiling to go with the people against the system.
It’s my understanding that successful changes (like Poland in 1989 or Ukraine 2014) need that insider faction to really effect change.
Contrast that with the Belarusian protests a couple of years ago when no faction in the government was willing to throw in its lot with the people…
What was the faction in Ukraine that helped change things…. (it’s a bit different I know since Ukraine was a (barely) functioning democracy when the protests started in 2013 but the principle is the same – citizen protests by themselves don’t change things unless they can get allies within the system).
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In Ukraine in 2014, lots of politicians tried to become allies to the protests. Timoshenko was one of the most blatant. They were all angrily rejected. As a result, the two post-Maidan presidents are a candy maker and a comedian. Everybody was very tired of the establishment by that time.
Maybe the protesters in Iran need more time to figure things out. I tried to ask the pro-Iranian protesters here on campus if they are protesting against the hijabs. Or for the hijabs? For the mullahs to go? Or to stay? But they don’t seem to know. It started with the hijabs, so one would think there would be some certainty on this issue, at least.
“2014, lots of politicians tried to become allies to the protests”
2004 might be a better example… The events of 1989 in Poland at least partly happened because there were some (many) in the government that realized the system was dying on its feet and only radical change could save the country.
Iran doesn’t have that yet (like Belarus and russia, apparently).
AFAICT in Iran hijab isn’t the main issue, the death of the young woman beaten to death because she wasn’t wearing one in the approved manner was just a spark setting off a powder keg of discontent (a lot of it undirected). If the protests die down now they’ll break out again in a few years due to some other spark….
When Iran does change I’m certain it will certainly be far more secular than even the times of the Shah – my Iranian colleague told me that swearing in Persian now incorporates blasphemy like “fvkk M0hannеd!” (unheard of before but common when a religious institution dominates a government as in Quebec at one time – tabernac!).
The mullahs are the ultimate enemy and target of protests…
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