Over the last few days, Iran has seen the largest anti-government protests since the fraudulent election of 2009. Iranians across the country have taken to the streets to demand their freedom. It is difficult to overstate how brave they are.
It is not clear what prompted the recent wave of protests. Nor can we say how many Iranians in how many cities have joined the demonstration against their oppressors. What we do know is that the theocrats in Tehran are worried.
The Iranian government has shut down popular social media sites such as Instagram and Telegram that the protesters were using to spread their message. As of this writing, the government has killed at least 10 protesters and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (a paramilitary force) are setting up to squash the protests. Despite this brutality and suppression of speech, videos have gotten out of thousands of Iranians chanting slogans such as “death to the dictator,” “we don’t want an Islamic Republic,” and “clerics shame on you, let go of our country.” In response to the crackdown, some protesters have stormed government buildings, mostly local headquarters for the security forces that attacked crowds of civilians.
It is impossible to say what will come next. The 2009 protests were much larger, but appeared to be more focused on the stolen election. The current protests, while smaller, quickly morphed from economic complaints to revolutionary chants to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
In 2009, the Iranian people also chanted “Obama, Obama either you are with us or you are with them.” Trying to put together the Iran nuclear deal, Obama chose them. Rather than risk the deal, Obama stood by while the Iranian government imprisoned, beat, and murdered its people; the same government that routinely organizes chants of “death to America,” props up Assad’s dictatorship in Syria, funds terrorism throughout the world, and was responsible for the deadliest weapons used against American soldiers in Iraq. Now, America may get a do over.
So far, the Trump administration has stood with the Iranian people, demanding their rights be respected and warning Tehran that America is watching. Let us hope that continues, and that Trump acts on his professed solidarity with the people.
Iranians have suffered under an oppressive theocracy for nearly four decades. They deserve their freedom.