The political nature of the protests has been made clear from the outset and the regime is experiencing a political earthquake. The regime's gunmen have been out in full force. Despite the brutal power being deployed to crush these peaceful demonstrators -- four protestors have already been reported killed -- more people are flooding the streets in defiance of the regime.
The scale of these sudden protests is unprecedented during the last four decades of the Islamic Republic of Iran's rule.
These demonstrations, however, are different from other protests in Iran since 1979, when the theocratic regime was established. In 2009, during the popular uprising in the name of the "Green Movement," people were protesting against rigged elections and the presidency of the anti-Semitic politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chants echoed through the streets, "Where is my vote?" while the government ratcheted up its power to silence the protestors.
Pictured: People in Tehran, Iran, protest against rigged elections during the popular uprising in the name of the "Green Movement," on June 16, 2009. (Image source: Milad Avazbeigi/Wikimedia Commons)
Now, people are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. After almost four decades of living under a theocracy -- with Islamist mullahs controlling them, rampant corruption, and the regime's persistent dissemination of propaganda -- the people have reached the boiling point. The government has been doing all it can to stoke the flames of hatred, but has been trying to deflect it to "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".
Protesters, risking their lives, have been chanting, "Death to Khamenei" -- a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the Sharia law of the regime, with death.
People are also chanting, "Death to Rouhani", "Shame on you Khamenei, step down from power", "Death to the Dictator" and "Death to the Islamic Republic". Protesters are tearing down the banners of Iran's Supreme leaders, Khomeini and Khamenei.
Chants being heard all over the nation are, "Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us", "Death to Hezbollah", "The people live like beggars / [Khamenei] lives like a God," and "Leave Syria alone, think about us instead".
The outcry leaves no question about the needs of the people, and the real voice of Iran. Demonstrators are making a clear distinction between the Iranian people's desired policies and those being carried out by the regime. All political and economic indications are that protests in Iran will continue to grow.
The Trump administration in the United States is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda.
US President Donald Trump tweeted:
"Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime's corruption & its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people's rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests"
In another statement, the U.S. State Department said:
"On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson accurately testified to Congress that he supports 'those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.' The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people."
Let us be clear. The fault lines are completely visible. If you are on the side of justice, freedom, and basic human rights, and if you respect humanity, you will not be able to remain silent. Let us at least give moral support, if not more, to the Iranian people. Justice and truth need to prevail. This is what history has repeatedly shown us. Let us not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity, let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals, that turned a blind eye to violence, and the will of brave, innocent people.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is the author of "Peaceful Reformation in Iran's Islam". He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.