The ongoing protests which have rocked Iran since the 16 September death of Jîna (Mahsa) Amini have snowballed into a revolt that is shaking the foundations of Iran’s theocratic regime, Iranian Kurdish political theorist Abbas Vali told Mezopotamya Agency.
Amini died in hospital days after witnesses saw the Islamic’s Republic’s notorious morality police beating her as they arrested her for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly.
Her death has sparked weeks of still ongoing protests, not only in her native Kurdish region in the west of Iran, but across the country. The New York Times described the protests as the largest at least since the demonstrations after the contested 2009 presidential election.
“For me, the situation that’s arisen is a political revolt,” Vali told Mezopotamya. “This is an uprising to end the Islamist state and form a new one.”
With news of key petrochemical workers downing their tools and calling for the end of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Monday, commentators have begun likening the protests to a revolution.
For Vali, this is the kind of widespread support protests that has lent the protests both a resolute power and a concrete vision for the future.
“We’re talking about a mass uprising with support from every part of society, not just from public institutions but from religious ones, too. There are people of every ethnicity and every profession at the protests, and they don’t want the Islamist state,” he said. Vali also noted, while the protesters have united under Kurdish slogans, such as “jin, jîyan, azadî” (woman, life, freedom), or “bemire dictator” (down with the dictator), they share a vision of an egalitarian country with a shared identity.
“This is why … they want to leave aside religious beliefs and live in a free society,” said Vali. “Those standing against the dictator today aren’t limiting themselves to a democratic formation – they also want one where all cultures, ethnicities and gender identities are treated with respect.”
This character of the protests – and the prominent role women have played in them – have set them apart from previous uprisings, and for Vali have no equivalents.
“The most significant slogan is one that demands freedom for women and for all of society. And this is rocking the regime’s foundations, because those foundations were built on the enslavement of women,” Vali said.
“When we look at the media today, women are on the front ranks of the resistance; they’re the ones leading the rest of society. This is the first such uprising in the Middle East, and nothing else like it has been seen in the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, the inclusive nature of the movement has foiled Khamenei’s plans to pass the protests off as the work of separatists in Iran’s Kurdistan and Baluchistan regions, Vali said.
He added that, while Khamenei had spent weeks trying to blame the uprising on a foreign conspiracy, it was becoming ever clearer that the ayatollah’s regime was losing its legitimacy to the extent it may not be able to stand for much longer.
For Vali, the fall of the Islamic Republic would have a significant impact around the region, particularly among Turkey’s Kurdish population, who he said are living under similar circumstances.
“You may have noticed that Turkish officials have supported the Iranian regime against the protesters,” he said. “If the uprising succeeds in its aims, there will be a serious impact among the Kurds in Turkey, because all these subjects (the protests address) have serious influence in Turkish politics.”