An analysis of the recent protest movement in Iran
Azar Majedi

Thousands of people took to the streets in Iran to protest against the Islamic Republic and everything this regime stands for. The protests started from the universities and was ignited by the demand against privatization but only hours later, as was expected, thousands of people were protesting in Tehran demanding freedom of expression and shouting 'down with Khamenei'. Waves of protests spread throughout the entire country. And despite the relentless efforts of the government to crush this popular unrest, demonstrations, protests, and clashes with security forces have become a feature of everyday life in Iran.

What does this movement stand for?

Under a brutal dictatorship, people cannot express their true demands and aspirations openly. Slogans are usually modified or watered down. People are terrorized. Intimidation and fear work as effective tools of censorship and self-censorship. The people of Iran do not want the Islamic Republic. This is a fact. But the desire to oust the regime has taken different shapes and forms over the past decade. The hope of reforming it and making life more bearable was a real issue six years ago. Soon people realized that these so-called reforms were not to come about. The illusionary characteristic of the so-called 2nd Khordad (reformist) movement, which rallied around Khatami, the president, was soon exposed.

The popular movement for overthrowing the regime became more outspoken, direct, radical and militant. What we have been witnessing in the streets of Iran over the past two weeks is the manifestation of this transformation. For the first time, loud and clear, we heard the real desire of people being expressed in one straightforward slogan: 'down with the Islamic Republic'. And this is the essence of the past weeks' unrest in Iran. The dynamism of a revolution is that once people overcome their fear, once they stand against intimidation, once they collectively shout the demand for the overthrow of the regime, once they see and feel the force of solidarity and unity, the clock cannot be turned back. It is either defeated by force or it gains momentum and it will continue to the end. This is the phase we are witnessing in Iran.

What are people's demands?

Freedom and equality, a slogan being shouted in the streets, very accurately summarizes people's demands and aspirations. Freedom and equality is what people want. Freedom in the widest possible sense of the word, i.e. political freedoms, social freedoms, cultural freedoms, and sexual freedoms, and equality in the economic, political, and civil rights spheres as well as gender equality. What people are demanding on the streets now has been very clearly formulated in detail by the Worker-communist Party in its programme, 'A Better World'. Another phenomenon, which we are witnessing in the recent protest movement, is the growth and strengthening of the Worker-communist movement. The radical tendency in the popular movement is identifying itself with Worker-communism and its aspirations more and more. The role of women in the recent events

One of the significant characteristics of the recent protests is the role of women in it. In a seminar entitled: 'Will Communism be Victorious in Iran', Mansoor Hekmat, the leader of the Worker-communist movement, stated: 'Iran's future revolution could be a female revolution'. What we see on the streets of Iran today is definitely manifestations of this. Women are not only taking active part in the demonstrations and protests, but they are frequently taking a leading role. They are militant and brave. Throwing off the veil and burning it in a country in which non-observance of the codes of veiling is punished by floggings, imprisonment and torture is an act of tremendous bravery and militancy. The burning of the veil is not only an act of defiance; it is tantamount to burning the flag of the Islamic Republic; it is the symbol of throwing all that is Islamic or representative of the Islamic Republic and political Islam away. The burning of the veil means 'down with the Islamic Republic of Iran'. Women in Iran are at the forefront of the anti-regime protests and a formidable force against political Islam. The Islamic Republic established its grip on power over twenty years ago by forcibly veiling women, by terrorizing women to submission, and now women are taking to the streets, shouting 'Down with the Islamic Republic', and throwing their veils away and burning this symbol of oppression and humiliation. Women are rising against religious tyranny, the misogynist order, the oppressive and brutal regime, which has terrorized, killed, and tortured people and denied them any rights.

What lies ahead?

Whether this current wave of protests will develop into a full-blown revolutionary act to overthrow the Islamic Republic, or will stop to gather strength and momentum is to be seen. But one thing is clear; the people's movement against the Islamic Republic has entered a new phase, has been transformed and has more directly and openly voiced the desire to overthrow this brutal regime. We are witnessing a more frank, militant, and clear protest movement. Slogans have become more direct, radical, and less ambiguous. We are witnessing a great movement to overthrow one of the bloodiest and most brutal regimes of the 20th century. Not only that, but by overthrowing the Islamic Republic we will bring about the demise of political Islam in the region, and by doing so, free the people of the Middle East, particularly women, from this reactionary, oppressive, criminal, and misogynist monster.

Long live freedom, equality, and workers' rule!