Mahsa Amini protests ‘defeat’ Iran’s Islamism


Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out holding a referendum on key national issues, a demand made by antiestablishment protesters, activists, and opposition figures, RFE/RL’S Golnaz Esfandiari writes:

Khamenei’s rejection of a referendum appears to be in response to a call by former President Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate, who recently suggested that holding a popular vote on domestic, economic, and foreign policy matters could resolve the unrest in the country….. In recent months, some opposition figures and civil society groups have called for a referendum on protesters’ demands. They include opposition figure Mir Hossein Musavi and Iran’s top Sunni cleric, Molavi Abdolhamid. 

A top Iranian cleric close to the country’s supreme leader was assassinated Wednesday,
authorities said, in a rare attack on a senior religious figure at a time of continued unrest, reports suggest. Ayatollah Abbas Ali Soleimani was fatally shot by a single assailant in a bank in Babolsar, in Iran’s northern province of Mazandaran near the Caspian Sea. State media said authorities had arrested a suspect at the scene and were investigating who ordered the killing.

What Iran is witnessing now is a grassroots secularization among 82 million Iranians, especially the youth, argues Saeid Golkar of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The separation between a reactionary theocratic regime and a tech-savvy, young, and educated society has so widened that people are sacrificing their lives to overthrow the government, he writes for Hudson’s Current Trends in Islamist Ideology:

The 2022-23 Iran protests are against everything Islamism stands for, such as hostility to the West, fun, and democracy. Almost all the protesters’ slogans are chanted against the dictatorship, the Khomeinists, and their ideology. The 2022-23 protests are a social and political revolt against the Islamic Republic and its Islamist ideology. Iranians are presenting a new paradigm of replacing a death-ordinated religion centered with one that values life, individualism, and liberty.

While the future of this round of protests is not completely clear, the message of these protests is: Islamism has been defeated in Iran, even though Islamists still control the state and society through naked force, adds Golkar, author of Captive Society. The question is when Iranians can put the genie of Islamism back in its lamp. Although it is not a 100% guarantee that the next regime will be democratic, we can be sure that the next regime will be secular, thanks to widespread resentment of Islamism. RTWT

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