Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

More on Iranian protests

Iranian protests are complex jigsaw puzzle, say observers
A striking image, taken by an amateur photographer on a smartphone, shows a young woman in Tehran taking off her hijab, perching on a telecoms box, and holding her headscarf aloft on a stick.
It may look as if she is waving a white flag of truce, but given her geographical location, in a country where wearing hijab is obligatory for women, it is a small – yet audacious – act of resistance, embodying the aspiration of a young nation frustrated with economic grievances, but also lack of social and political freedom…

The geographical scale of the unrest in provinces, and the harshness of the slogans chanted are unprecedented since the 1979 Iranian revolution…

But the new protests, labelled by many on Twitter as “Eteraz-e-omomi” (or “the general strike” in Farsi) are posing more questions than answers, puzzling observers about how it all started, why it spread so quickly, and what it means for the future of the Iran…

Mohammad-Taghi Karroubi, the son of an Iranian opposition leader under house arrest said that after Rouhani won a landslide victory with the support of reformists, his unexpected conservative turn since had disappointed his base. “It’s always been the reformist youth who pumped hope inside the country and they’re silent now – that’s the government’s weakness, people are hopeless and when reformists are not pumping hope, they’re becoming even more disgruntled.”…

While the middle class and the elites were behind the 2009 protests, this new wave appears to be led by the working class, which is most affected by the country’s economic woes.

Others say it is too soon to fully comprehend the new protests. “It’s a jigsaw puzzle,” said one commentator who did not want to be identified. “There might be other reasons at play too, such as internal rivalries between different factions especially as Khamenei becomes older and the succession race becomes serious.”…

Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran University professor sympathetic to the Islamic Republic, blamed Rouhani government’s economic policy over the protests, which began just weeks after the president unveiled next year’s budget.

“There are obviously economic problems ... I think that perhaps the government policy seems to some as leaning towards the liberalisation of the economy, rising the price of gasoline and removing subsidies, and at the moment because the economy is not doing so well, it has created a sense of concern among a lot of people,” he said…

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