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Geopolitics

How Iranian Protesters Unmasked The Regime's Old Game Of "Divide And Rule"

Iran's clerical regime has worked hard over 40 years to set Iranians against each other on multiple bases, and must now watch a nation united in opposition to itself and breaking its red lines, notably those set around gender, faith and even ethnicity.

Photo of a woman with a flag of Iran and the inscription "Free Iran" painted on her face

Anti-regime protests on Nov. 19

Elahe Boghrat

-Analysis-

In Iran, after decades of organized social segregation and the Islamic Republic's exclusion of the vast majority of Iranians in favor of a small minority of devotees, a nation has now risen to fight segregation — or apartheid — in all its forms.

Perhaps to attract wider attention worldwide and win over the opinion of Western democracies, wedded as they are to the ideal of gender equality, public declarations and reports have spoken of Iran's ongoing protests as a 'women's revolution' or the 'first women's revolution.'


But what is happening in Iran is even bigger than that, a unique revolt against a singularly wicked and criminal regime that has required several never-before-seen factors coming together.

One of these was precisely the speed with which protesting Iranians complemented their initial and now famed slogan of "Woman, Life, Freedom," with another of "Men, Fatherland and Prosperity" (Mard, Mihan, Abadi).

 Mahsa Amini, a rallying cry 

The women's movement in Iran often complained that men never gave women enough support in their fight for their rights. Yet men's voices have been loud and clear in these protests, as they were in previous, bloody rounds of protests against the regime in 2009, 2017-18 and 2019. It might even be fair to claim that in all those protests, the voices of the male half of the population were even louder than those of the female half.

This time, the state killing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, became the trigger that has ignited all of society to boldly renew the demands it has repeatedly made before.

The regime in Tehran must be aghast.

The death of a woman became a rallying cry for all social groups sharing one goal, the downfall of the Islamic Republic and its brand of fascism.

The complementary chants of "Woman, Life, Freedom" and "Man, Fatherland and Prosperity" find meaning within this unification. Both slogans ultimately expound the unity and inclusion for all Iranians and confound the regime's 40-year obsession with imposing subjective barriers and fomenting social segmentation and discord.

"Divide and Rule was and remains its motto.

The regime in Tehran must be aghast now as it watches a spectacle of national, regional, ethnic, gender and class unity, and the collapse of all its boundaries.


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