A fuller picture is slowly emerging of what is really behind the nationwide uprising currently racking Iran. And, contrary to the reports in the American press, it’s not all about economic woes.
There is, of course, no getting away from the economic misery the Iranian people are suffering: “an unemployment rate around forty percent; the bankruptcy of innumerable funds, including Iran’s equivalent of Social Security; the bankruptcy of numerous factories; and of course the bankruptcy of many banks.”
It’s an obvious fact that the country’s “currency is in spectacular free fall. By new year’s day (late March), the rial will likely be worth one one-thousandth what it was under the shah,” and even so, “workers at some big factories haven’t been paid for six months, and some of them are on strike.”
But the insurrection that has swept the country in the past month — and which continues to flare up daily — is not merely a call for economic improvement. The Iranian people are suffering from a vast breakdown of the entire system, and they detest the clerics who run it. The other day, more than 25 cities were shut down by pollution. There is a nationwide water crisis, threatening agriculture and sanitation.
The clerical ruling class is blamed for these many failures, and the “Islamic Revolution” has long since lost its mass appeal. Attendance at mosques is way down, and most of the attendees are there because they are ordered there.
The insurrection is thus not merely the product of economic misery, as so many analysts would have it. The human symbol of the revolution, after all, is Vida Movahed, a woman holding her hijab on a stick, her hair flowing over her shoulders. She isn’t asking for a salary increase or for her bank to function properly. She’s calling for the end of the Islamic Republic.
There are Twitter videos showing other women sans veils directly challenging security forces in the name of their movement, “White Wednesdays.”
The mood of the Iranian people couldn’t be more explicit. They want an end to theocratic rule. The shouted chants are not about the economy, but rather “down with Khamenei” and “we do not want to be ruled by mullahs.”