It has been six months since the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran that sparked the wave of protests that posed one of the greatest challenges ever faced by the clerical regime in its 44 years. In the last month the strong repression, the thousands of arrests and executions added to the strong economic crisis have forced the protesters to take a step back.
But by now it is evident that the Iranians, under the apparent calm, are simmering the fire of their demands summarized in the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”. Popular aversion to the government manifests itself on every occasion and becomes a puzzle for those who govern.
TUESDAY EVENING Iranians celebrated Chahar-shanbe Souri. On the night before the last Wednesday of the year, they go to welcome Nowruz, the Persian New Year on March 21, lighting fires, jumping on them, shooting fireworks to ward off evil, calamities and express their wishes.
The ceremony has its roots in ancient Persian rituals. Fire is an essential element of the party. In the eyes of Iranians, it is the only one of the four elements of nature that is not polluted, a symbol of light, purity, freshness, creativity, life, health; it is the most important sign of God on earth.
This year the party turned into anti-regime protest in many cities including Tehran, Sanandaj, Gorgan, Rasht, Baneh, Saqqez, Mashhad, Zanjan. Despite intimidation and threats from the authorities, women and men gathered around the fire, dancing and shouting anti-power slogans. Some youths threw fireworks at the security forces.
UNFORTUNATELY the party left 11 dead and over 3,500 injured on the ground due to accidents in various cities. The party is a pre-Islamic custom and has nothing to do with religion. After the Islamic revolution of 1979 the clerical power attempted to eliminate popular traditions considered un-Islamic and even anti-Islamic. Instead many Iranians have sought to reinforce such rituals linked to pre-Islamic Persia. Nowadays the holiday has become a national symbol to counter the thinking of political Islam.
The protests have changed shape in the last couple of months, Iranians have found many less dangerous ways to demonstrate and make their voices heard. Girls and women occupy an important place in this struggle and symbolize its spearhead.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, a group of five teenage girls from a neighborhood in Tehran, Ekbatan, recorded a clip of them dancing to a song by Selena Gomez and Nigerian singer Rema. The clip quickly went viral, millions of views in a short time.
With their gesture they broke the ban on women dancing in public and wearing the obligatory veil. A challenge that the regime has not tolerated. Authorities identified and arrested the girls. They were detained for approximately 48 hours and forced to return to the spot where they had recorded their first video to record a second one in which they repented, with their heads covered.
ALSO THE SECOND CLIP it went viral and in response hundreds of videos of girls dancing in solidarity with the five teenagers were spilled onto the internet. The regime seems to be terrified of girls and women. On Tuesday, parliament released new rules to address unveiled women.
They will be identified through video surveillance installed in tourist, recreational and commercial places, pharmacies, trains, planes and even in virtual spaces and punished according to the law. The owners and operators of these centers are responsible for observing the hijab and will be punished if they do not.
Authorities recently sealed off Ameri Palace, a major tourist attraction in Kashan, and an organic farm among the 18 best practices in eco-tourism, Matin Abad Eco-Resort, for non-compliance with the headscarf by female visitors and customers.