Iran protests mark 'revolution’, dissident in US says

Tehran has tried to kidnap Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad, FBI says

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Prominent Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad did not mince words when referring to the continuing protests that have rocked Iran for more than three weeks.

“This is a historical moment, a revolution gaining momentum,” she told Nazee Moinian of the Middle East Institute in Washington on Thursday, during an online discussion.

Iranians have been demonstrating in droves in cities and towns across the country since the death of Mahsa Amini in the hands of the country’s "morality police".

Images of young women cutting their hair in public have circulated around the world, and Iranian security forces have responded to protests with deadly violence, leaving scores dead.

Last week, at least 63 people were killed when security troops “bloodily suppressed” an uprising in the city of Zahedan, the Iran Human Rights group in Norway said.

Iran is no stranger to nationwide protests. In what became known as the Green Movement in 2009, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against what they said was the rigged election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

And in 2019, thousands took to the streets to protest against rising fuel prices.

But Ms Alinejad said the current protests were different.

“This is the first time that we're witnessing women burning headscarves,” she said.

"The headscarf is not just a small piece of cloth. It's a symbol, the most visible symbol of oppression.”

Masih Alinejad holds up a photo of an Iranian woman who was killed during protests in Iran. AP

In 2014, the veteran journalist who lives in exile in the US started a campaign inviting women to post pictures of themselves without their hijabs on, in many ways a precursor to the current demonstrations.

In 2021, the FBI told Ms Alinejad of a plot to kidnap her by the Iranian government.

In August, a man was arrested after he was found in possession of an assault rifle at Ms Alinejad's New York home.

She has said the administration of US President Joe Biden is not doing enough to support the protesters, and urged him to abandon any hopes of a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

“Downgrade your diplomatic relations and ask the Islamic Republic to respect human rights and its own people,” Ms Alinejad said.

Updated: October 06, 2022, 9:42 PM
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