Massive anti-regime protests swept Iran on Monday, with thousands taking to the streets in the capital and across the country as the economic crisis continues to worsen.
Even as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei reportedly summoned the heads of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for emergency talks on how to crush the latest demonstrations, an estimated 20,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament in Tehran, chanting slogans including “Death to the dictators”, “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih”, a reference to the ‘Guardianship of the Jurists’ creed which is the foundation of the so-called Islamic Republic’s theocratic regime.
In one neighborhood of Tehran, protesters set up a barricade of burning tires to block the police efforts to enter the area and break up the demonstration.
In Shiraz, the protesters expressed anger at the rapidly worsening economic crisis with chants including, “We don’t want one US dollar at 100,000 rials”, with Iran’s currency currently approaching freefall rates of inflation. Another chant from the crowds of protesters across the country was “Our enemy is right here – they are lying that the enemy is America”, showing that the regime’s efforts to redirect the people’s anger towards the USA and Israel and to depict itself as a “resistance” entity or the victim of external conspiracies are no longer fooling most Iranians. Public anger has grown steadily as the regime spent the past seven years and hundreds of billions of dollars on funding regional wars and militias even as conditions in Iran continued to worsen. Although some Iranians hoped that the domestic situation might improve in the wake of the landmark 2015 ‘legacy deal’ between the regime and the P5+1 powers, the regime instead used the funds released under the deal to redouble its regional expansionism and supply more weapons, troops and militias to the Assad regime in Syria and to other proxies in Iraq and Yemen.
Protesters in Shiraz expressed their anger at the regime’s intervention to prop up the Assad regime in Syria whilst it ignores the suffering of Iranians, chanting, “Leave Syria and find a solution for us”.
The presence of heavily armed riot police at Monday’s protests, who deployed tear gas and batons in their efforts to intimidate the crowds into dispersing, still didn’t prevent thousands of citizens demonstrating in other areas of the capital and in towns and villages across the country. The protesters’ chants which also included, “We don’t want mullahs’ clerical regime” making it clear that while the economic crisis is a primary factor in instigating the protests which have been swelling since last December, these are not simply protests at the worsening economic conditions, but a rejection of the regime itself.
Another recurrent theme among the protesters across the country was anger and disillusionment at BBC Persia’s coverage of the protests in recent months; whilst many in Iran trusted the BBC to provide impartial coverage, it’s widely seen as being sympathetic to the regime and giving little or no sympathetic coverage to the people’s demonstrations and the regime’s vicious oppression; this anger was reflected in chants such as “Mullahs’ liars BBC”.