It was in July of last year when I wrote about the commencement of Iranian protests in the wake of an allegedly rigged presidential election. “This is the beginning of the end for the Islamic Republic,” I said.
Only six months has passed since, and the crumbling of the regime is not hard to spot. As 2009 ended, masses of Iranians came to the streets in confrontational and violent clashes with regime forces. Hundreds of thousands took part in demonstrations in Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, and cities all over the country, demanding an end to the rule of Ayatollah Khamenei, their unelected yet all-powerful Supreme Leader.
The most intense clashes thus far occured on December 27, the mourning day of Ashoora. The day commemorates the time when Imam Hossein, an old leader and symbol of Shiite Muslims, was killed in the seventh century by Yazid, the khalifa who opposed him. Shiites are known for their passionate mourning on they day of Ashoora every year.
But this time, Ashoora was a day of the most massive protests ever in Iran. Choosing this day to hold demonstrations was a clever tactic on the part of the protestors, who used official government days to gather en masse in the streets and stage anti-government demonstrations.
Slogans were sharper than ever, with “This is the month of blood, Khamenei will be overthrown,” added to the now usual “Death to Dictator” and “Death to Khamenei.” For the first time, people succeeded in occupying and controlling parts of Central Tehran for many hours, and also invaded and occupied a few military barracks.
The day also saw unprecedented developments that reminded many people of the last days of the Shah’s regime in 1978-79. Just like then, some armed forces refused to shoot on people, disregarding the commands of their superiors. It is no longer a mystery that the days of the Islamic Regime are numbered. One way or another, it is doomed to fall due to the massive force of a people who have dared to come out and demand an end to it.
Like a hurt animal, hopelessly fighting for its survival, the Islamic Regime is still planning on unleashing its monstrous oppressive power to stop the protests. Last week, a number of Iranian MPs who support the government introduced a bill to Parliament that approves the execution of “enemies” in less than five days, where it used to be 20. That’s in addition to killing dozens of protesters in the streets.
The movement continues to grow as people get ready for the next day of big protests. February 11 is the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution itself. A general workers’ strike could ensure its victory. Meanwhile, solidarity events and commemorations are happening all over the world, including in Canada (and especially in Toronto) where there is a strong Iranian community.
The Islamic Regime is not only hated inside Iran because of its oppressive nature, but also because it is the head of an ugly creature that has been sickening the world: Islamist Terrorism (or “political Islam,” or whatever term you might prefer). Rooting up this regime will set Iranian people free, making Iran a beacon of hope for everybody in the region.
Arash Azizi is an Iranian U of T student involved in organizing protests.