The people of Iran protest to express their opposition to the regime, but even peaceful demonstrations are punishable by arrest, torture or even execution. The regime is desperate to keep its hold on power at whatever cost and the people’s opposition is a major threat to its survival. And quite rightly so because the power of the people cannot be underestimated.
The regime is also fearful of outside influence so it has tried to restrict access to social media sites and is trying to decrypt messaging apps such as WhatsApp, and Telegram which is extremely popular among the Iranian population. The regime does not want any influence from the West and does not want the people of Iran exposed to Western values of democracy and freedom that will jeopardise its existence.
In 2009, the Iranian regime faced its biggest blow when the people took to the streets in protest against the controversial re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Social media was instrumental in the organisation of the protests, but they were also instrumental in showing the rest of the world what was happening on the streets. If it was not for social media, no one outside Iran would have been able to see what the reality of the situation was because the state-run media is biased and provided much misinformation and propaganda.
The international community condemned the regime’s violence and suppression and the regime came very close to toppling.
There have been other incidents in the past where security forces have very violently beaten protesters, sometimes resulting in death. No one has ever been held accountable.
The people of Iran are now using social media again to build up support to and defy the Iranian regime. Women are also ignoring laws regarding the obligatory wearing of the hijab. They have been punished, had their cars seized, etc. but they still continue with this act of disobedience. The bravery of these women must be recognised.
There are numerous small, but very courageous, acts like this that are becoming more and more common in the country. It is sending a very clear message to the regime that the people are not happy with the mullahs and they will never become subservient or accept such an unjust fate.