As the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s passing and the months-long protests it caused approaches, the Iranian government has issued a warning that it will not put up with any indications of “instability” and will punish anyone who does.
After being detained in Tehran on September 16 of last year for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s severe clothing code for women, Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, passed away.
Her passing sparked months of protests across the country with the theme “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
Before authorities took action to put an end to what they called foreign-instigated “riots,” hundreds of people, including dozens of security officers, were killed in street fights.
One year later, no overt plans for protests have been made to honor Amini’s death anniversary on Saturday, which is also a recognized religious festival.
Tuesday’s television interview with President Ebrahim Raisi contained a warning.
“We know what will happen to them,” he continued, “for those who seek to misuse Mahsa Amini’s name under this pretext, to be an agent of outsiders, to cause this instability in the country.
Sadeq Rahimi, the deputy head of the judiciary, stated late last month that security agencies will be vigilant.
“The intelligence and security agencies are monitoring all the movements and will identify and deliver to judicial authorities those who want to take to the streets in the coming days and create problems,” he said.
At least five social media accounts were taken down by Iranian authorities last week, and the six people behind them were detained on suspicion of “organizing riots” for the anniversary.
The Iranian leadership, which is also in conflict with Western powers over its nuclear program and is subject to harsh sanctions, faced a significant challenge as a result of the wave of protests that occurred last year.
According to Fayyaz Zahed, a professor of modern history, “no incident in the history of the Islamic republic has driven such a chasm between the system and the people as the death of Mahsa Amini.”
The government, he asserted, “cannot solely rely on security and repressive responses” to contain the problem.
Many people “are still traumatized by last year’s events,” according to reformist campaigner Mohammad Sadegh Javadi-Hessar, who is based in Mashhad in northern Iran.
Thousands of people were detained throughout the months-long protests, in addition to the violence.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, declared the end of the unrest and the defeat of the “plot” instigated by the “enemy,” a reference to the Western nations and Iranian opposition groups in exile who supported the protests, in February.
On Monday, Khamenei charged that the United States, Iran’s traditional enemy, intended to take advantage of “issues they think can cause crises in Iran,” especially the status of women.
Since immediately after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women in Iran have been obligated to cover their heads and necks and encouraged to dress modestly.
While the unrest from the previous year has subsided, many Iranian women, particularly in Tehran, have been progressively disobeying the rigid clothing code.
The transformation in society—which has grown more vibrant and alive—was the most notable impact the Mahsa movement had on Iranian society, according to Zahed.
He added, “Women’s clothing has changed significantly,” pointing out a move toward bolder hues.
The government has retaliated by putting up surveillance cameras in public areas to watch for breaches and closing down companies where laws have been broken.
The Iranian parliament is debating a bill that would increase the penalties for violating the clothing code.
But not everyone supports the severe penalties.
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Shiite cleric, has spoken out against employing “violence and pressure” to enforce the hijab.
The recent termination of scores of university academics has also drawn criticism from reformist figures.
According to some professors cited by the local media, they were fired because of their political beliefs and support for the protest movement.
While the hijab problem is still important, many Iranians prioritize their economic suffering because of the country’s high inflation rate, according to activist Javadi-Hessar.
Prior to the restoration of civil and political freedoms, he claimed, “the main demand of the people is the improvement of the economy.”