By RFE RL
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) appears to be preparing measures to ward off the possibility of renewed unrest as the one-year anniversary aproaches of the death of Masha Amini, who died in September 2022 while in police custody for an alleged hijab violation.
Hossein Salami, the commander of the IRGC, told a conference of national Basij officials on August 1 that the “most powerful, dangerous, serious, and widespread struggle” faced by the Islamic republic — a reference to the monthslong protests and rallies that erupted after Amini’s death — could gain strength in the coming weeks.
Salami called for preventative measures to head off a new wave of protests before the September 16 anniversary, though he did not give any details.
Iran’s security forces have been heavily criticized for their heavy-handed response to the protests, with more than 500 demonstrators said to have been killed and many more injured. Rights groups also say there is strong evidence that torture has been used against those voicing dissent.
Amini’s death became a rallying cry for thousands of Iranians, especially women and girls, who took to the streets to show their opposition to the hijab law. Demonstrators demanded justice for the 22-year-old and chanted anti-government slogans while rejecting the government’s cultural, social, and economic policies.
Resistance to the mandatory hijab has become a focal point in the ongoing protests, with many women and girls not only rejecting it but also sharing images of their defiance on social media.
In response, various state institutions have sought to suppress this wave of protests by enforcing laws, closing businesses, blocking websites, and filing lawsuits against supporters of the optional hijab.
During its final months in office, the 11th Iranian parliament has taken a hard-line stance, significantly amending the government’s Hijab and Chastity bill from 15 articles to 70.
The new bill, which has faced opposition from legal experts, introduces hefty fines for those who defy the mandatory hijab. The legislation aims to deter citizens from appearing without a hijab again.
Adding to the discontent, Iranians have been grappling with an increasing range of economic issues, including water shortages, environmental degradation, and the impact of international sanctions.
Officials of the Islamic republic, including the IRGC commander, have labeled the protests as “sedition” and “riots,” attributing them to alleged “enemies” of the country.
Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Rdio Farda