By Ali Safavi
Spring in Iran was marked by the outbreak of protests nationwide by virtually every sector of Iranian society, beginning with demonstrations and strikes by tens of thousands of workers in March. By April and May, the level of discontent had escalated dramatically as tens of thousands of workers kept their pledge to turn out en masse.
More than one hundred thousand staged a rally in Tehran on May Day, making it one of the largest protests in Iran in the past two decades. Chanting “death to oppressors” and “freedom is our inalienable right,” they displayed their burning desire for change.
They were joined by tens of thousands of teachers who staged strikes in Tehran and the four corners of the country on May 2.
Women also took to the streets to protest the sweeping nationwide crackdown under the pretext of “mal-veiling.” University students in Tehran and elsewhere also held rallies and demonstrations to vent their anger at the regime’s repressive policies.
The citizenry’s continuing defiance of the mullahs, including the violent uprising in Eqlid, southern Iran, in late April, is particularly significant considering that in the Persian calendar year ending March 21 nearly 5,000 protests erupted across the country, prompting senior officials to express concern and alarm over losing control of the situation.
This trend speaks of three undeniable realities in today’s Iran.
First, the explosive state of discontent and the public’s longing for an end to the religious dictatorship which Khamenei attempted to solidify in 2005 by propelling to the presidency a notoriously murderous Revolutionary Guards commander Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Second, the utter failure of Ahmadinejad’s political and security agenda, namely his bogus pre-election pledge to alleviate the miseries of the impoverished citizens and his ludicrous schemes to project the nuclear weapons program as a matter of national pride.
And third, the continuing and expanding defiance on the part of the populous, which relies on the organized resistance movement, despite the brutal clampdown.
These realities have sounded the alarm bells for the ruling theocratic tyranny as they manifest the elevation of the national resistance and the Iranian people’s yearning for freedom and democracy on the one hand and the regime’s irremediable impasse and inability to contain the growing discontent on the other.
Ali Safavi, of the Iranian National Council of Resistance, is president of Near East Policy Research, a policy analysis firm in Washington, DC. His website is: http://www.www.localhost/nearali