The Long Twilight of the Islamic Republic
The Long Twilight of the Islamic Republic
Op-Ed 1 minutes

The Long Twilight of the Islamic Republic

Iran’s Transformational Season of Protest

For most Iranian Americans, the past four months have been unspeakably harrowing.  Since the tragic death of Mahsa Amini at the brutal hands of Tehran’s “morality police” in September, we have watched thousands of videos of young protesters, armed with nothing but their bravery, standing up to a regime bereft of mercy. We have shuddered in horror at the killing of nearly 500 people—including more than 60 children—with live ammunition, the blinding of hundreds of protesters with rubber bullets and metal pellets, and the execution of four protesters after tortured confessions and sham trials. We have cried as so many loving young men and women have had their lives cut short to prolong an oppressive gerontocracy. We have been awed by the grit of schoolgirls who are burning their mandatory headscarves, and we have had our hearts broken as we watched these girls sob on their loved ones’ graves. We fear the worst for the thousands who have been arrested, and we have been relieved about the ones who have been freed. And, given that all of the past protest movements against the so-called Islamic Republic have ended in grief, we dread that this could become another turning point in Iranian history where history fails to turn.

The uprising has lost some momentum in the past few weeks. The protests have been scattered and relatively shallow. But the regime remains too resolved to cling to power, too fearsome, and too totalizing in its control over the airwaves and cyberspace. The protests fell short, for now, of a revolution in the streets.

But they nonetheless constitute the most widespread and sustained challenge to the Islamic Republic in decades. More than 160 cities were rocked by demonstrations that transcended social, ethnic, and sectarian fault lines, all in pursuit of a single objective: toppling the existing political order. And a revolution has already happened in the minds of the Iranian people. Iranians now share a broad-based consensus that something in the regime is broken and cannot be mended. Gone are any illusions of reforms, fantasies of redeemers, hopes for economic miracles, and patience for better days. What was once an anguished whim or a distant wish, which had turned into ravaging despair, has now turned into an irrevocable demand for fundamental political change and freedom.

The full article can be read on the website of Foreign Affairs.

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