'Death to dictator'

Iran protest videos get out, despite regime’s muzzling attempts

Video clips show peaceful demonstrations alongside images of police violence, protesters burning police vehicles, ripping up images of Islamic leaders

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Bypassing regime attempts to clamp down on social media during countrywide popular protests that began on Thursday, Iranian activists have been flooding Twitter and other sites with video clips of the mass demonstrations, including individual acts of defiance.

The protests, sparked by President Hassan Rouhani’s austerity measures and fueled by the shooting deaths of two protesters Sunday night in the small town of Izeh in southwestern Iran, have evolved into attacks against regime symbols. Videos have shown protesters tearing down posters of Rouhani and even of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, and of police vehicles being overturned and set ablaze.

In Tehran, demonstrators stopped an Islamic Revolutionary Guard van carrying arrested protesters. The cameraman can be heard shouting, “Topple it!”

In Isfahan, central Iran, protesters attacked and set ablaze vehicles belonging to members of the Basij after the latter had opened fire. The Basij forms part of the regime’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.

In Ahwaz, in Iran’s southwest, demonstrators responded to anti-riot police action by pelting them with stones.

In Pardis, in the east of Tehran Province, protesters could be seen ripping down a poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic regime.

In another, unclear location, a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini was seen burning on the ground.

In Kermanshah in western Iran, riot police could be seen kicking protesters and beating them with wooden batons.

Women have also taken an active role in the protests.

In an image that may well come to symbolize the countrywide outpouring of frustration, a young women can be seen taking off her hijab head covering and turning it into a flag, in protest at the Islamic dress code imposed on women since the 1979 revolution.

In a quieter sign of defiance, a Kurdish girl in the Iranian Kurdish city of Ilam was seen spraying “Death to dictator” on a wall as the man filming urged her to hurry.

Elsewhere, a female demonstrator could be seen crying, “We have everything in this country, yet women are forced to sell their bodies and souls!”

The protests appear to have spread like wildfire, affecting cities of all sizes, among them Aligoudarz, located 503 kilometers (312 miles) from Tehran in the country’s northeast.

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