Public Protests Escalate In Iran
One seemingly innocuous arrest of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran, whose hijab exposed some of her hair, has continued to escalate into daily protests across the nation. They began when it was discovered that she died in police custody. Women have been galvanized into resisting the status quo and demanding changes not only in rules regarding their dress, but also now demanding regime change. The tipping point has been reached, and there is now no turning back. Iran’s attorney general said that the so-called morality police which arrested Amini have been disbanded, but that fact cannot yet be verified. The statement is definitely aimed at calming the situation and preventing further unrest, but some believe it may just be a temporary effort to suppress the protests.
The morality police was a force established in 2005, resulting in extremely strict laws regarding women, their clothing, and public conduct. The morality police are charged with enforcing these very unpopular laws. Many Iranian families have female members that have been targeted by the police. Not only are the young people protesting, but also older conservative men and women. A former protester against the hijab, Azam Jangravi, who now lives in Canada said, “The people’s problem with the Islamic Republic is not only the hijab. Even if they remove the hijab, people want regime change.”
Public officials seem flustered and unable to deal with the populace which seems to have reached a boiling point of frustration with the current regime. A real brain drain is occurring with thousands of professionals leaving the country, many relocating in Oman. Iran’s health system is dangerously short of physicians to care for the people. Iranian commentator Abbas Abdi believes the government was taken by surprise because they are not accustomed to listening to the people, particularly young people who have become the leaders in these public protests. He said, “The reason they (the government) did not see it, is that no one in the government wishes to really see the society, even now when it is in turmoil” He added that, “60 to 80 percent of the population support the youngsters in the streets although they may not be as vocal.
It is doubtful that Iran will ever return to the highly repressive regime that it was, but what it will become is unknown. With the world watching and Christian believers praying, it will hopefully evolve into a more tolerant and sensitive society.