Defining Slogans of Iran’s Current Uprising Reveal Support for Organized Resistance


Written by
Aladdin Touran

Iran has been mired in protests for more than one month, and there is no reason to believe the nationwide uprising will be ending anytime soon. Over the past six weeks, the movement has grown to encompass at least 197 localities across all 31 of Iran’s provinces, with clear participation from a wide range of ethnicities, religious groups, and social classes.

With initial protests having been focused on the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, women have been a driving force behind these protests since day one. When the Iranian school year began in early October, teenage girls also became an especially visible force for change after viral videos showed them defacing images of the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that are required to be on display in their classrooms and chanting anti-government slogans to drown out and drive away regime representatives who arrived on their schools to demand compliance.

The particularly youthful makeup of this uprising has prompted many foreign observers to acknowledge the possibility that it could mark a turning point in the struggle between the theocratic regime and those who demand an alternative form of government. Speculation about the possibility of regime change only accelerated during the second month of October when workers in the oil industry staked strikes specifically to express solidarity with the women and girls leading street protests across the country.

The current uprising represents an opportunity for the Iranian people to reclaim the democratic ambitions that underlay public support for the shah’s ouster more than 40 years ago. That connection is highlighted in slogans that explicitly condemn the tyranny both of today and of yesterday, via slogans like, “Down with the oppressor, be it the shah or the ayatollah.”

The oppression that Iranians have suffered under the Iranian regime has unquestionably been worse than that which they suffered under the shah’s regime. But the ongoing protests leave no doubt that those people are looking forward and anticipating the establishment of a truly democratic system, which reflects the principles and shared interests of Western nations and their closest existing allies.

A clear plan for that outcome has been outlined by the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. And over the past five years, the NCRI’s main constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has been tirelessly promoting the idea of a viable, democratic alternative through its network of “Resistance Units” inside Iran.

It was those very Resistance Units that played a leading role in an ongoing series of uprisings at the end of 2017, which prompted the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei to begrudgingly admit that the MEK was leading the anti-regime actions and had “planned for months” to popularize uniquely anti-regime slogans and calls for regime change. Those slogans remain in circulation even now and continue to define the organized opposition movement in the context of the current uprising.

The mullahs, in their demonizing campaigns, have always tried to portray the MEK as an unpopular “cult” because they understand that there is boundless support for a democratic alternative.

The past five years’ uprisings have successively dismantled this feature of the current regime’s propaganda, making it increasingly apparent that the MEK and the NCRI represent the political will of the Iranian people as a whole. It is for the sake of their democratic vision that the people now chant, “We will fight, we will die, and we will take back Iran.” This, too, is a slogan that the MEK and its Resistance Units have used for years. Its widespread repetition is proof positive that the success of the current uprising will inevitably lead to the implementation of Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the country’s free, democratic future.

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The past five years’ uprisings, and especially the one that is currently ongoing, have clearly exposed the regime’s vulnerability to organized opposition. There can be no further justification for appeasing that regime or overlooking that opposition. The international community should therefore take immediate steps to isolate the embattled Iranian regime further and to begin dealing directly with the people via the Resistance movement, which is a true reflection of their political will. The first step is recognizing the Iranian people’s right to self-defense in the face of the regime’s brutality and their right to Resistance.

Defining Slogans of Iran’s Current Uprising Reveal Support for Organized Resistance

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