Women, Life, Freedom! Revolt in Iran

Image released by numerous news agencies

The Iranian Islamist theocracy is rightly in trouble, due to the tragic murder of Mahsa Amini by the Islamist morality police. Mahsa travelled to Tehran from the Kurdish part of Iran and was picked up by the morality police for so called ‘improper hijab’ on the 13th, an absurd ordeal for all women in Iran and the sort of thing that was stepped up by Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi, himself also responsible for mass repression and killings of political prisoners in the 1980’s.

The veil is compulsory in Iran and millions of women face harassment, beatings, prison and being fined etc even if they are veiled but it is considered by the morality police to be ‘improper’. In April a man was shot by the morality police four times for attempting to defend his wife who was being arrested by the morality police. Mahsa Amini was severely beaten and went into a coma and died in hospital on the 16th September.  X rays revealed that she was beaten so intensely that her skull was fractured. Not just the Morality police but Raisi himself and the entire regime are directly responsible for her death.

This has rightly enraged many people in Iran, the vast majority of who do not want to live in a theocratic state in the first place and about 75% of who were not alive when the Islamic revolution happened.  The regime is run by an out of touch clique of traditionalist old religious fundamentalist men. Though Mahsa’s death is deeply sad it has been heartening to see the courage of Iranian women standing up to the regime and burning their hijabs and veils and it pleases us as anarchist communists and as human beings to see women and men of all ages uniting and defying the regime, with chants of “Women, Life and Freedom!” and “Death to the Dictator!” and calling for an end to an Islamic state. These are the largest protests and disturbances in Iran since 2009 and can be, in a sense, seen as feminist.

And thankfully it’s not just the burning of veils and the chanting of slogans, this is outright revolt – a governor’s home was set on fire in Amol, police stations have been set on fire in Mashad, posters of leaders and ideologues of the Islamic Republic have been torn down and burnt and morality police have been beaten up in Tehran, police vehicles have also been trashed and the unrest has spread widely.

We acknowledge that religion divides, rules and fools and oppresses people and that theocracy and patriarchy should not be tolerated. And even if we are realistic about the likely limitations of this revolt, we as anarchist communists, are very glad to see the Iranian people coming together to stand up and fight back against theocracy and patriarchy. We should have solidarity with this uprising in whatever way we can and we condemn the British government for its continued relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Article by Tom Hughes