May 16 marked the eight-month anniversary of Iran’s murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for her alleged failure to wear her hijab properly, sparking nationwide protests that continue to this day. An FDD tracker estimates that at least 3,366 protest rallies have occurred since September 16, 2022. Last week alone, FDD tracked 58 protests. For the month of April, FDD tracked 238 protests. In addition, the regime has killed at least 552 Iranian demonstrators, including 73 minors, and arrested some 21,100 people. Tehran also continues its efforts to enforce its mandatory hijab laws, arresting numerous women who defy them. In recent weeks, in an effort to stifle dissent, the regime has executed or sentenced to death dozens of Iranians, including innocent protesters.
“Though Iran’s protests may have faded from U.S. news coverage, they haven’t faded from Iran’s streets. The courageous Iranian people will not be silenced. The Biden administration needs to amplify its efforts and make clear that U.S. pressure on Tehran will not relent until Iran has new leaders committed to human rights and democracy.” — Tzvi Kahn, Research Fellow and Senior Editor
“It’s clear that the Biden administration is still searching for a Plan B Iran policy. With a protest movement still vibrant across Iran, that Plan B should lead with maximum support to the Iranian people.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor
Tehran Cracks Down on the Hijab
Iran’s Cyber Police has threatened to close women’s fashion businesses, plastic surgery clinics, and gyms for posting images of unveiled women on their social media accounts. Since March, Iran has closed more than 2,000 businesses for admitting women without the hijab, causing tens of thousands of Iranians to lose their jobs. University campuses have cracked down on the hijab as well. “Hundreds of Iranian students are said to be facing disciplinary committees and possible suspensions at Al-Zahra University in Tehran over issues related to the mandatory wearing of hijabs on campus,” Radio Farda reported on May 17.
For the regime, the hijab constitutes a key part of its religious mission and identity. “The Islamic Republic will not mean much if there is no hijab in the country,” said Vice President for Legal Affairs Mohammad Dehghan on May 14.
Iran Goes on an Execution Spree
Tehran has executed at least 243 people so far this year, according to the Oslo-based non-profit Iran Human Rights, including more than 60 since late April alone. By contrast, the regime executed 582 people in 2022, up from 331 in 2021, Iran Human Rights said. “This is an abominable record,” said Volker Türk, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, on May 9. On May 8, for example, Iran hanged two men, Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare, for the crime of blasphemy. A news agency tied to Iran’s judiciary said the pair insulted the prophet Muhammad and promoted atheism.
“Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz
“Maximum Support for the Iranian People: A New Strategy,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad, Richard Goldberg, Tzvi Kahn, and Behnam Ben Taleblu
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