The protests started in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, and the slogans chanted by the people were predominantly economic and political in nature. President Hassan Rouhani’s name was mentioned a lot. Neyshabur, a nearby city, was also one of the first places to protest and similar chants were heard there.
Once the initial protests had started, they quickly spread to other towns and cities. The people continued to protest against President Rouhani, but also against the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – the religious head of the country.
Speaking out against the Supreme Leader of the country is very significant because it shows that the people are fed up, not just of the political turmoil in the country, but also the whole governing apparatus.
After several days of protesting, the people began to mention the regime’s interference in other nations across the region, in particular Lebanon and Syria. In the space of a few days, the protests went from being very targeted to one specific issue, to being aimed at the leadership of the country in general. The protests and anti-government demonstrations spread across the country like wildfire, showing that public discontent is not just limited to certain geographical areas or certain social sectors.
It became very clear very quickly that it was not just one policy or one administration or one government that provoked such outrage with the people. The people of Iran want a government that will look after the interests of the people and put their needs over the senseless goals of the regime.
The recent protests differ from the 2009 uprisings in that they were spread across the whole country as opposed to just around the main cities. The fact that so many issues are being brought up in the current protests shows that the people need their situation to change. For too long they have been denied the most basic of human rights and freedoms that we in the West take for granted. The country needs a strong leadership that will take the nation into the future.
In 2009, the people were abandoned by the international community that remained largely silent with regards to the protests. This time, the people have got the backing of US President Donald Trump. The West, so far, has been reluctant to comment for fear of upsetting Iran and jeopardising the Iran nuclear deal.