Iranians: Dying to be Free
Iranians protesting the killing of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s Hijab Police have captured the attention of people around the world. The sight of young women and men wielding only words against a regime armed and willing to use its might against unarmed citizens is the story of David and Goliath being replayed before our very eyes. But in this modern retelling, David is injured and dying every day.
Attending some of the protests in Britain it is easy to see how upset the demonstrators are. Most of them have experienced life in the Islamic Republic and have a deep understanding of what people in the country are up against.
As an Iranian expat living in the UK for the last few decades, it has been with an increasing sense of sadness, anger, and frustration that I have watched the cowardly suppression of unarmed and vulnerable protesters on the streets of cities and towns across Iran.
For over two weeks ordinary women and men have stood together with a unity rarely seen among Iranians in recent times. From the very beginning women have led the protests, demanding the right to lead their lives without being molested or forced to wear Islamic dress. Students at over 50 universities and even a number of schools have joined the protests.
The tiny minority that supports the regime has the weapons and the controls with which to crush the majority, and the young people of Iran have paid dearly in blood while trying to bring about peaceful change. It is hard to watch some of the clips on YouTube, in one case of a young man who has been shot dying in front of a hospital after being denied entry.
With over a hundred people mown down and prisons filled with the innocent it is hard to see how this situation can be resolved without some kind of shift in the balance of power. The regime has demonstrated that it will do whatever it takes to survive, and there are reports of cruel treatment of prisoners and women protesters being subjected to extreme abuse following arrest.
Some Iranians had hoped that the army might stand up and protect citizens from those attacking them. But that hope is beginning to give way to contempt, as one woman wrote in a post addressed to other women online:
“Send your headscarves to the army so they can wear them and maybe then they too can find some courage.”
How much longer can the young people keep protesting and dying? What more can they do? Thinking about what the future may hold for Iran and its people is very uncomfortable, as I wonder if these protests may be the final opportunity for peaceful change. If the protests fail to deliver what people are hoping for, many may feel that change cannot be achieved through peaceful means. The consequences of such a change in attitudes would be disastrous for Iran.
I have to remind myself that regardless of how dark things look right now, we believe in the Sovereign God who brings light out of darkness and life from the shadows of death. Let us pray and intercede for a speedy and peaceful change in Iran. Let us pray that Iranians and especially the believers won’t lose hope and will keep their eyes fixed on the King.
*Banner photo: Taymaz Valley