44 years of Iranian revolution

ByUmair Jalali

Teaches in The Royal Colosseum and is an avid sports fan


February 18, 2023

44 years of Iranian revolution

Umair Jalali describes the survival of 44 years of Iranian revolution

To the surprise of many around the globe, the clerical regime of Iran has completed 44 years of Iranian revolution in power despite formidable odds. To mark the occasion the government organized rallies amidst anti-government hackers briefly interrupting a televised speech by President Ebrahim Raisi. The government of Raisi is currently facing a tough challenge to its existence as young protesters are calling for its ouster and in his address, he appealed to the deceived youth to repent so they can be pardoned by Iran’s supreme leader.

In that case, he told a crowd congregated at Tehran’s expansive Azadi Square that the Iranian people will embrace them with open arms. The content of his address was rated as extremely self-righteous leaving virtually no room for exploring a midway to resolve the bloody protests. The clerical regime is determined to keep the country under its grip and has shown many times that it can go to any limit to frustrate the efforts of peaceful dissenters and shows no mercy while doing so.

The regime is known for its divisive policies that have succeeded in completely wiping out any opposition in the country. The ongoing protests, therefore, lacked an effective leadership to spearhead them making it easy for the regime to isolate them. The regime pursues single-dimensional policies having no space for opposition and brutally cracks down when any attempt to agitate emerges.

It insists that its version of the rule is the right version and no deviation is permitted in it. The regime pays no heed to adverse international reactions to its hard-line policies and does not simply listen to the protestations of international human rights groups. It has successfully overcome all attempts to oppose it and has raised a potent coercive force to tackle them.

Anti-Government Protests

Despite the long protests across the length and breadth of the country the regime has neither relaxed its grip nor has offered serious concessions though the anger is still seething that could be borne out by interruption on the internet of Raisi’s televised speech for about a minute, with a logo appearing on the screen of a group of anti-Iranian government hackers that goes by the name of Edalat Ali or Justice of Ali.

A voice could also be heard shouting: “Death to the Islamic Republic.” Nationwide protests that swept Iran in September of last year are rated among the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since 1979, 44 years of Iranian revolution that ousted 2,500 years of monarchy. It is reported by human rights groups that so far 528 protesters had been killed including 71 minors along with 70 government security forces.

As many as 19,763 protesters are believed to have been arrested. In a minor concession, however, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an amnesty covering a large number of prisoners including some arrested in recent anti-government protests. It was reported that Iranian leaders and state media have for weeks appealed for a strong turnout at the celebratory rallies as a show of solidarity and popularity in an apparent response to the protests.

On the anniversary’s eve of the event, state media showed fireworks as part of government-sponsored celebrations, and people chanted “God is Greatest!”. However, many could be heard shouting “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to the Islamic Republic” in videos posted on social media.

Government television aired live footage of the state rallies around the country. In Tehran, domestic-made anti-ballistic missiles, a drone, an anti-submarine cruiser, and other military equipment were on display as part of the celebrations.

Iranian-French Academic Fariba Adelkhah

Raisi’s rhetorical speech highlighted that the enemy’s problem is not women, life, or freedom but they want to take Iran’s independence. Raisi accused the enemies of promoting the “worst kind of vulgarity, which is homosexuality. His speech was frequently interrupted by chants of “Death to America” a trademark slogan at state rallies over the last four decades.

As part of the amnesty marking the revolution’s anniversary, Iranian authorities released jailed dissident Farhad Meysami, who had been on a hunger strike, and Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah. Adelkhah, who had been in prison since 2019, was one of seven French nationals detained in Iran, a factor that has worsened relations between Paris and Tehran in recent months.

She was sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison on national security charges. They moved her to house arrest later but in January she returned to jail Adelkhah denied the charges. Meanwhile, Meysamis’s release came a week after supporters warned that he risked dying because of his hunger strike. He was arrested in 2018 for protesting against the compulsory wearing of the hijab.

The number of political prisoners jailed in recent months is extensively large but the regime is determined to incarcerate any number of protestors including minor children. During current protests, it resorted to hanging a few protestors on charges that did not merit a death sentence.

The trajectory of the hold of the clerics in Iran is ridden with contradictions that have divided the Iranian polity. In 1979, several factions of Iranian society, including secularists, Islamists, and leftists, were united against the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

44 Years of Iranian Revolution & Independence

The Shah maintained his grip on power through overt and covert help of the US and Britain. Supporters of the 1979 revolution hoped to bring a democratic system back to Iran. The Shah was known as a ruthless autocratic leader and used torture and executions to stifle dissent.

Still, many Iranians who express ambivalence about the regime revere the revolution itself and even though they are critical of the government but maintain that it was important that Iran is independent and sovereign. But others who believed in the revolution in 1979, today look back with regret. Many Iranians have complicated views about the regime.

The regime has argued that protests, which they have called riots were encouraged by outside forces propagating fears that the US wants to intervene in Iranian affairs again, as it had done earlier, particularly in the 1953 coup. One thing almost all Iranians are united on, no matter their political leanings, is that the government needs to do more to fix the country’s sputtering economy.

Inflation is high and the Iranian rial recently tanked even further against the dollar after the protests. Combined with U.S. sanctions, Iranians say they can no longer afford basic needs. On the other hand, the nationwide events on the 44th anniversary served to project that the government is in control, after several tumultuous months, in which critics and analysts alike questioned whether another revolution could be near.

In this context, many people evinced the danger of uncertainty if and when the regime is removed. They point out other countries in the region, like Libya and Iraq, which struggled after authoritarian leaders were removed from power. Coupled with such fears is the fright Iranians feel for the worsening economic conditions in the country which currently is subjected to international sanctions. The Weekender


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