Anti-government protests erupted for days in Iran to begin 2018. These protests come after years of political, economic, and social dissatisfaction. Iranians believe their government is corrupt and injustice is rampant. In America, mainstream media outlets like CNN reported instead on the “pro-government” rallies that occured after the protests.
Much of the protests were directed at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Supreme Leader ranks above the President of Iran and is also seen as the highest-ranking spiritual leader. Khamenei has blamed the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia for the protests.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seen as a moderate, has spoken out against the hard-liners like Khamenei saying, “One cannot force one’s lifestyle on the future generations. The problem is that we want two generations after us to live the way we like them to.” President Rouhani has been trying to relax social constraints in the country, but gets resistance from the radical religious figures, such as Khamenei. For example, just this week the Supreme Leader banned English from being taught in primary schools in Iran because it opens the way to a western “cultural invasion.”
Hundreds of people, including about 90 university students, have been detained since the protests began.
The Trump Administration is supporting the protests. “At some point, people will decide this is not how they want to live any longer,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CNN’s Elise Labott in an interview Friday, saying “the Iranians have suffered under this regime. But we always support a peaceful transition of power,” he cautioned. “We do not support violent transitions of power, but we do support peaceful transitions of power, and we’ve seen those expressions in years past with the large demonstrations at elections in 2009, the demonstrations that we see in the streets today.”
President Trump tweeted on January 3rd, “Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!”
The United States has always stood for freedom and the Iranian people, especially women, are deeply oppressed. Their voices deserve to be heard and the Trump Administration will work to make sure this happens!