FT continues to propagate in this piece the Western fiction that Rouhani is a “centrist.” The only value of this article is the statements it contains from the protesters. They are not just calling for reform, but for the scrapping of the entire Islamic system. In the West, we are constantly told that opposition to Sharia is “Islamophobic.” How did so many Iranians become “Islamophobic”? By living under Sharia since 1979.
“Growing dissent adds to Iranian regime’s troubles,” by Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, January 5, 2018:
Too young to vote last year, Mohsen encouraged friends and relatives to back Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s centrist president, who was re-elected in a landslide victory in May after promising to improve relations with the west and boost the economy.
This week Mohsen, not his real name, was on the streets of Tehran for four consecutive nights calling for the president to be sacked and the Islamic regime, which has run the country since the 1979 revolution, to be torn down. The 18-year-old university student was not alone: over the past 10 days thousands have taken part in what appear to be spontaneous demonstrations to complain about the economy and inequality in cities and towns across the country.
The reason for Mohsen’s volte-face is a belief that Mr Rouhani, the architect of the 2015 nuclear deal, has not lived up to his economic and social promises.
“We should have an Iranian republic not an Islamic republic,” says Mohsen, whose anger partly stems from an incident last summer when he and 20 friends were harassed by security forces over their clothing. “Anyone who comes is better than this regime. Even a bloodbath is worth it. Any big development needs deaths and blood . . . Islam cannot address our needs. It cannot bring a strong currency, social freedom and investments by Americans.”…
For now the protests, which left at least 20 people dead and banks, cars, police stations and mosques burnt out, have subsided, although sporadic unrest continues. But their impact has been enormous. Even in 2009, when the largest protests since the 1979 revolution followed allegations that the election had been rigged, millions of largely middle-class protesters called for reform of the Islamic system, not its scrapping.
But the typical 2018 protester is more working class. Many are based outside the capital — in towns and cities that have traditionally backed the regime — and resent alleged high-level corruption. Anger has been fuelled by government plans to cut monthly subsidies for those who earn more than IR7m ($194) a month, while increasing funding for some religious institutions. The move could directly affect 30m people, many of whom are already struggling. Fuel prices are also expected to rise….
By last Friday, protesters in dozens of towns and cities were pouring on to the streets to attack the entirety of the political establishment. They chanted “Reformists! Hardliners! The game is over!” and “Clerics! Get lost”….
Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a senior cleric in the holy city of Qom who last month was forced to deny that he received state aid, said this week that social media was “a disaster which promoted vice inside families and posed threats to the Islamic system”.
That freer flow of information, which has expanded since Mr Rouhani took power, has added to the discontent and sense of discrimination for young people in small towns beset by high unemployment, analysts say. They read on social media about the alleged corruption of senior politicians and budget spending on religious and revolutionary organisations, with 50 of them due to share $49.5m this year to promote “Islamic propaganda”.
“In a small town, a young unemployed man has a sense of nothingness and humiliation which was behind recent rebellions,” says Mohammad-Sadegh Javadi-Hesar, a reformist politician. “Slogans such as ‘Iranian republic’ should be taken seriously.”…