Guest: Abbas Amanat | Professor of History | Yale
Category: 💬 Opinion | Iran
Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[9:43] AA: "[Mahsa Amini has been turned] into some kind of a martyr of [the Iranian protest movement]. [...] And the protest movement goes on. [...] At least the authorities were thinking that it's going to die out in a matter of a few days. But it became more intense. [...] It involves the youth and not necessarily the older generations, you see them around, but not as many. Also, you see men and women together with young girls and boys. And they are adamant. They are desperate in the sense of the tone of their protest. And they are extremely courageous because they stand against the security forces that were immediately sent off to the streets in full gear."
[11:44] AA: "The main slogan, which is the message of this movement, is called "women, life, freedom" [...] sums up what this movement is all about. Women [are] in the forefront, because of all the one might say, discriminations, the treatment, the humiliation that [...] most of the Iranian secular middle classes since 1979, basically, for the past 43 years [feel]. [...] This is all basically symbolized [...] by wearing the hijab. [...] You see [...] women in streets take off their mandatary scarves, [...] throw it into the bonfire in the middle of the street, and they dance around it. [...] So there is a sense of complete rejection of what this regime for 43 years has been imposing on women. It's not as it's sometimes portrayed as a movement against a hijab, through and through. But it basically says, there has to be a choice for those who want to wear hijab and those who want to remain without hijab."
[18:10] AA: "The second part of this message, the idea of life, basically means, if you'd like to use the American equivalent of this, pursuit of their happiness. [...] They want fun, they want music, they want dancing, they want to be free in the street, they want to have boyfriends, and live freely and not be constantly looked at by the big brother to tell them what to do."
[21:14] AA: "The third part is [...] freedom or liberty, which is this long standing demand of the Iranians, I would say for the whole century, ever since the constitutional revolution of 1906. Iran has witnessed this problem of authorities that usually emerged at the end of a revolution, to basically impose its own image on the population [...] and create authoritarian regimes, of which over the course of time, I would say that the Islamic Republic is the worst. In the sense that its intrusion is not only in the political sense, [...] but it's intrusion into the personal life of the individual."
[35:25] AA: "The population in Iran, since the turn of the [...] 20th century, has been about 9 million or so. It is now 83 million. [...] In 1979 the population was 35 million, between the past 40 years, it's basically doubled. [...] [Today], this urban population in the cities have completely different demands. [...] This creation of a larger [and] better educated middle class, [...] Iran has 86% literacy, [contributes to the current revolutionary movement]."
[1:20:35] AA: "In 1979 there was a revolution that eventually came to be known as the Islamic Revolution. And even up to this day, many of you observers or those who have strong views that would not like to refer to it as an Islamic revolution, or even a revolution. Because [...] it started with a kind of a very liberal, democrat[ic] agenda, which was demanded mostly by people, who were the veterans of the older generations of Iranian liberal nationalists that were left out in the [...] period [were] the Shah became increasingly authoritarian."
[2:08:52] AA: "Throughout the course of Iranian history, throughout the course of the Islamic history, I would say, this [was] the first example and probably the only example, of a regime that is a religious establishment that [...] has always been separate from the state. And always kind of collaborating with the state in a with a certain tensions in between the two of them, [...] that situation changed for the first time that religious establishment to cover the power of the state. And that's at the core of what we see today as a major issue for Iranian society."
[3:04:32] AA: "I have great hopes for Iran's future for a variety of reasons. [...] This movement [...] that we see today may fizzle in a few weeks time, or it may just go on and create new dynamics in Iranian society that would hopefully result in a peaceful process of greater accommodation and a greater tolerance within the Iranian society and with the outside world. And I think the majority of the Iranian people don't want tension, don't want confrontation, don't want crisis. [...] For 40 years, they have suffered from a regime that has dictated an ideology, that it's regressive, and impractical. They want to go back to a life in which they don't really create trouble for their neighbors or for the world."
[3:06:56] AA: "No matter how much the Islamic Republic tried to Islamicize the Iranian society in its own image of radical ideological indoctrination, it has failed. It has failed up to what we see today in the Iranian streets. [...] If you look at [...], besides the government, every aspect of life in today's Iran, you can see that from the way that people dress, to the way that they try to live their lives, to the way that they're educating themselves [...] you see a desire and intention to move forward."