Students riot against gender segregation in college dining halls. Demonstrations take place every night. Two of its most famous football players argued about what is happening. A mythical former DT said that you should not play “with this climate in the country”
Protests by Iranian women against the impositions of the regime continue throughout the country. Now, the epicenter has moved to the universities where students demonstrate against segregation in student canteens. EFE/EPA/STR
Fed up with the segregation imposed by the authorities, students from the Faculty of Medicine in Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, drilled the wall that divided the cafeteria between the sector for women and men. The rector's response was to close the place. The one for the students, sit in front of the closed cafeteria and have lunch togetherin a large picnic that they organize every lunchtime.
In Iran, sharing a meal with fellow students has become a revolutionary act. The joy with which the boys share their food is contagious and can be seen in dozens of videos on social networks. Protests continue to rock the ayatollahs' regime since the death of Mahsa Amini,the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish girl, on September 16. She died three days after being arrested in Tehran for allegedly violating her dress code. She had removed her veil, the hijab , obligatory. Two months later, after the death of at least 328 protesters and the arrest of thousands more, according to data from the organization HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency), protests took place in the whole country. Every day videos appear on Twitter and Telegram with images of girls burning hijabs and screaming “Woman, life, freedom”, the slogan of this uprising that, unlike the many others that challenged the Islamic regime in the last 30 years, is led by women, cuts across all social classes and it extends over time without the repressive apparatus being able to dominate it.
Protest at the technological university from Tehran. At several universities, students are challenging gender segregation in cafeterias. (Telegram)
In the last week, protests have spread to 130 universities. The Ministry of Education wanted to close them, but found that the teachers gave classes without segregation by sexat the campus gates. The Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, known as Iran's MIT, was broken into by the bashishi, the paramilitaries, several times, but they were unable to prevent a large event this week in the main hall of the university with dozens of speakers and a finale in which a crowd sang the famous song from the 70s “The united people will never be defeated” in the original version by Víctor Jara. In order not to miss classes, students and teachers organized themselves and study online, as they learned in the pandemic.
برپاخیز ، برای زن زندگی آزادی
دانشگاه شریف، سه شنبه ۱۷ آبان pic.twitter.com/ENp4qLT0Bh
— انجمن اسلامی شریف (@AnjomanSUT) November 8, 2022
This does not mean that there is no pressure, threats of expulsion and even corporal punishment. These are taking place, according to complaints from the students, in the secondary schools of women who demonstrated massively against the use of the hijab in the previous weeks. They denounce that they carried out searches and that they even forced them to strip naked to see if they were hiding pamphlets against the regime. “Students at Sadr High School in Tehran were attacked, stripped and beaten”, the activist group 1500tasvir wrote on its Twitter wall. Forty underage students were arrested in the last week, according to various human rights organizations. Hamed, a 25-year-old student at Guilan University in Rasht, a northern city near the Caspian Sea, told DW that “every day there are more guards and infiltrators, people than ever before. We had seen each other before in college”. He said that they film each group and take photos to identify each one, but when one of the infiltrators was discovered among those who were eating together in front of the cafeteria “he received a few blows.”
The “basishis” move with vehicles disguised as ambulances that park on the outskirts of the campus and where they take the arrested. In recent days, videos have been seen of women yelling at the guards who were trying to arrest them for not wearing the hijab. In one of them, “ambulances” were seen surrounding the campus of Shahid Chamran University in Ahvaz, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, shouting: “A student may die, but he will not accept humiliation!” The authenticity of the video was verified by the AFP agency.
«مردم شریف ایران» بعد از اینکه #نوید_افکاری رو اعدام کردن و رو به بدترین شکل ممکن آزار ، امروز در شیراز #الهام_افکاری خواهر نوید رو کردن. این تصویر قلب انسان رو پاره پاره میکنه. چی از جون این خانواده میخواین بیشرفا pic.twitter.com/8dHpQHXclf
— Negin Ragh (@RaghNegin) November 10, 2022
The gestures of athletes, actors, writers and the media in favor of the protests also continue. The gesture of a player from the Iranian beach soccer team who, after scoring a goal, took his hair and made a gesture of cutting it off, went viral, as thousands of women have done in these two months in protest sign. Niloufar Mardani, a figure skater from the Iranian national team, appeared without a headscarf on the podium when she received her gold medal at a competition in Turkey. She also became famous, Elnaz Rekabi, a member of the women's national climbing team, who competed without a headscarf in a tournament in South Korea.
And the controversy spread to Team Milli, the major soccer team that in 10 days will compete in the World Cup in Qatar. As in Argentina in 1978, during the dictatorship, many wonder if they should play and support the team. The mythical technical director, Jalal TalebiThe 80-year-old, who coached Iran at the 1998 World Cup in France, where he guided Team Melli to the most important victory in their history, over the United States, believes that “now is not the time” to participate in the World Cup. “How would I feel to watch football when my neighbor, my brother, my compatriot and my wife are in such a bad situation?” Talebi said.
According to a report published on social media by an independent Iranian journalist, the team's star forwards Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Terami, they intersected in a heated discussion about the protests in the concentration of the team that takes place in Austria. The dispute reportedly took place after Azmoun posted on Instagram that “team rules” prevented players from expressing their views on national protests, while saying he was willing to < b>“sacrificing” their place in the World Cup “for a single hair of Iranian women.”Azmoun quickly deleted the post and then only talked about football. President Ebrahim Raisi revealed in an interview that he had already spoken with the Qatari authorities, Iran's closest ally in the Gulf, “to make sure there are no internal problems within our team.”
Clashes for rights of women to decide on their clothing and customs reached the soccer team that plays the World Cup in Qatar. (Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency via REUTERS)
“It's women's participation that causes all these ripple effects,” Zoe Marks, an expert on nonviolent mass movements at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, said in an article in Time< magazine. /b>. “There is more tactical creativity, there are more ties to society because women have all these social relationships and resources that are slightly different from men's social and professional relationships and resources. That is why it is touching every small segment of Iranian society.”
While political analysts believed that the protest movement was not going to persist for the lack of clear leadership and the absence of desertions within the regime itself, intelligence reports began to appear that spoke of “fatigue” in the middle layers of the revolution who began to demand reforms. “Movements in which women are prominent are also more likely to cause defections both among members and supporters of a regime, largely because women tend to provide more legitimacy and sympathy for these movements,” explains Marks.
Iranian women who stop “serving” their macho husbands can be very persuasive, says this sociologist. And other studies suggest that young women who have removed their hijab are very likely not to put it back on again. Nor do the boys who now have a quiet lunch together in Iranian universities seem predisposed to accept segregation again.