According to eye witnesses, thousands of Iranians staged a third day of protests. They chanted slogans in both Farsi and Arabic calling out organized state alienation of people, and rejecting attempts to change the demographics of the area.
The protest began with a cartoon TV show that used figurines to misrepresent various ethnicity in Iran. Discontent grew after a video showing a man in Arab dress begging for money from another wearing a traditional costume of another national circulated on social media.
Several Khuszestan province cities experienced clashes with police. Iranian forces shooting live ammunition in the air and arresting several protesters were seen in videos on social media. Sources in Ahvaz said that more than 26 people were arrested, including three women.
Activists say that over the past decade non-Arab growth in the residential areas of Ahvaz has government support — in an attempt to disrupt the demographic composition and turning Arabs into a minority. In fact, the leak of a document from the so called reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s office showing a formal approach to change the demographic formation in Arab regions caused large-scale uprisings in Ahvaz in April of 2005.
On social networks, and in front of the Iranian Radio and Television Corporation, activists have launched an “I’m Arab” campaign.
Some 397 protests have taken place in the past year mostly against the policy of diverting rivers. Last April, Iranian regime’s President Hasan Rouhani promised to reconsider the projects transferring water outside of Ahvaz. Still, over 80 Iranian cities, including Ahvaz, witnessed widespread protests against high prices and the deteriorating living conditions.
Officials of the Iranian Regime’s Radio and Television Corporation have reportedly tried to speak to representatives of the demonstrators, in an attempt to contain the tension, stressing “their legitimate and legal rights.” They have promised to follow up on the demands of the protesters, including ending all “racist behavior” and “denial of Arab identity” in television programs, the apology of Iranian officials and holding the “abusive” program accountable. In return, they have asked the demonstrators end the protests and return home.
Like all the people in Iran, the Arab people in the southwestern oil rich province of Khuzestan are under pressure from the regime. Regime change is the only solution for people of every religious, ethnic and social origin.