The Iran Protest And Its Special Flag

It’s December 2017, the New Year fast approaching, but the coldness of winter has no influence on the passionate protestors in Tehran, Iran.

Eight months later, Tehran is heated up by the hot wind of summer and so are the restarted protest against the ruling regime.

The protest expands to over 10 cities in two days, and the situation is accelerating. It might soon reach the same scale as the protest in winter, where 70 cities and towns took part in the movement, 25 deaths and over 4000 under arrest.

The dissatisfaction and anger toward the government comes from the unsatisfied basic need of Iranians. It is reported that over 6000 bus driver spent 24 hours on August 5, waiting in line in order to get fuel. Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran, is accused of carrying out insufficient economic policies, which leaves one-third of its people under the poverty line. The rapid depreciation of its currency, the lack of food and water, along with the strict Islamic rules, has become the great burden that leads to the protest. With the chant “Death to the dictator”, protesters tried to draw the attention of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader since 1989. They blame Khamenei for the huge spending on religion as well as the government corruption, which blocks the economic relief from benefiting the common citizen of Iran.

Many experts, including government officials of Iran and the US, do not have a positive expectation toward the protest. They believe the Iran security force is strong and loyal enough to put down the protest. The behaviours conducted during the protest, including setting buildings on fire, damage private property, are hard to bring change to the regime, but only worsen the situation of average citizens’ lives. The outcome of the protest is unpredictable.

However, aside from the burning garbage bins, the furious crowds, and the intense security force, there is a special movement among the massive Iran protest. Iranian women speak out their voice by removing their hijab, the Islamic headscarf, in the public. Near the busy street of the cities, they took off their hijab, tie them to sticks, and hold them high, like flags. This is the flag that cries for freedom and self-expression that has been silent for hundreds of years. In the women’s carriage of the subway, three young women, having their hair and face exposed, sung a feminist song. The lyric says “we are women” again and again.

Iranian women form a strong force in the Iran protest, contributing their voice and action fighting for freedom and equality. They take the risks with great bravery. A woman sadly stated on social media that she is charged with a 2 years sentence in addition of 18 years of suspicion for getting rid of her hijab. In the video, her beautiful brown hair fell loose on her shoulder, which becomes her powerful weapon in this war without fire.

Change and improvement often need struggle, and the reasons for struggle are always freedom, equality, and a better society for future generations. Food is not the only thing that Iranians are fighting for, the hijab protest demonstrates Iranian women’s will to stand out and let their voice heard. The hijab is raised as the special flag of Iran Protest, as the symbol of pain and struggle, as well as hope and will.

Helen Jingshu Yao

An international student in Canada, interested in the topics concerning humanity, feminism, and equal access to education for all.