November 29, 2022

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"The Regime’s Legitimacy Is Eroding": Iran Protests Continue Despite Brutal …

That’s why for Shojaei and other activists, the gesture of the national team players didn’t go far enough. “If you want to see real courage, then look at the young women who are risking their lives at the protests.”

It is nevertheless clear that a significant shift is underway in Iranian society. “The regime’s legitimacy is eroding. They are no longer recognized by their own people,” says Orientalist Schulze. He believes that the mullah’s grip on power has become fragile. Of course, he says, it is difficult for many in the population to believe that the mullahs might one day be swept from power. But there is also a significant amount of hope and plenty of courage.

In the beginning, he was part of a group of four, says 23-year-old paramedic Ardalan, from the Kurdish north of the country, who told his story over the course of dozens of voice messages. They were an emergency response team tending to injured demonstrators. “Two were murdered and one was arrested. I’m the only one left.” He says that he too was taken to prison and tortured, and charged with “insulting the Prophet” because he had helped the wounded. He was then released on bail, “and I’m still going! We have to treat the wounds immediately, otherwise many of them won’t survive.” Early on, he says, they were fired at with teargas and buckshot, but that hasn’t been the case for some time. Now, he says, the regime is using snipers and “dushkas,” – large-caliber machine guns that are frequently mounted on the beds of pickups.

Ever since Ayatollah Khomeini grabbed power in 1979, Tehran has been propagating the fight against purported American imperialism and against the discrimination of Shiite Muslims in Saudi Arabia and in other Gulf autocracies.

Even More Brutality in the Provinces

But the Islamic Republic has always been a state that oppresses minorities: the Kurds to the west, the Baluchis in the southeast and Sunni Arabs in the south. Since the first day of the unrest in September, protests in the Kurdish areas as well as those in Sistan and Baluchestan Province have been fired on with live ammunition.

“I don’t want to use the term ‘state of war,'” says Ardalan, “because in a war, both sides are armed. But we only have bricks that we pile up to form barricades, while the other side is heavily armed.”
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