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Like most major protest movements, all it takes is one symbolic tragedy to spark a widespread reckoning. In Iran, on 16 September, this became 22-year old Mahsa Amini (Gritten, 2022). Her death while in custody of the Iranian morality police after allegedly suffering abuse at their hands sparked the largest challenge to Iran’s current regime seen in years. It has re-invigorated widespread global attention to the human and women’s rights abuses of the Iranian regime. This report will outline the past and present strategies of the Iranian regime to repress women, the responses of the Iranian people and lastly what potential breakthroughs are possible for the Iranian peoples’ resistance movement.


Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979 after a decade-long buildup of opposition to the ruling monarch Mohammad Reza Shah (Afary, 2022). Khomeini offered a complete contrast to Shah’s decades-long policies of modernization and Westernization, which developed industry and urbanization but alienated and disrupted traditional Iranian social structures and rural agricultural economies (Katouzian, 2009). In the 1970s, when the Western world hit a recession and oil consumption decreased, the Iranian oil industry and subsequently the Iranian economy suffered while inflation grew (Afary, 2022). Political parties that opposed the Shah were dismissed and the protest was met with censorship and violence, including death (ibid). Frustration with the Shah’s regime and its economic failures from both left- wing secular intellectuals and right- wing clerics and social conservatives led to Khomeini’s political endorsement from both sides of the political spectrum and culminated in the ousting of the Shah and instalment of populist cleric Khomeini (Katouzian, 2009) ...

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Author: Milena Pappalardo

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