There is no way to tell now what will be the outcome of the massive protests that are sweeping Iran, but that they are undeniably momentous, despite the cavalier treatment they have received from the establishment media in the West. They have already led to the Tehran Police announcing that they will no longer enforce the dress codes for women that were imposed after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and more could be coming, including the downfall of the Islamic regime itself – although the mullahs are mobilizing their military, and will not go down without a fight.
Whatever happens next, what has already happened is extraordinary. Unlike the 2009 Green Movement protests, which featured protesters shouting “Allahu akbar,” signaling that all they wanted was reform of the Islamic regime, not the end of the regime itself, the protesters over the last few days have been clear, chanting: “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!” “Clerics shame on you, let go of our country!” Some have even chanted: “Reza Shah, bless your soul!”
Reza Shah was the Shah of Iran from 1925 to 1941 and the father of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah who was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Reza Shah admired Turkey’s Ataturk and set Iran on a similar path of Westernization and secularization. In chanting this, the protesters are emphasizing that they do not want an Islamic Republic, and demonstrating yet again that these protests are not just about government corruption or food prices.
One thing is certain: these demonstrations would already be over, and may never have begun, if Hillary Clinton were President of the United States right now. Confronted with those 2009 demonstrations that did not go as far or demand as much, Barack Obama betrayed the demonstrators to every grisly fate that the mullahs could devise for them in their torture chambers. Bent on concluding the disastrous nuclear deal that lined their oppressors’ pockets with billions and set the world on a path to a catastrophic nuclear attack, Obama ensured that the U.S. government didn’t lift a finger or offer a word of support for the protesters, even as they were being gunned down in the streets.
What a difference a presidential election makes. Trump has come out strongly in favor of the protesters, tweeting: 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!”
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.” Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added: “There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves.”
President Trump has already made it clear in so many ways, most notably by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, that he has a willingness his predecessors have not possessed to stand up to violent intimidation rather than to give in to it. Clinton, Bush, and Obama all spoke about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, but backed off from recognizing the fact as official U.S. policy, for fear that Muslims would riot and kill innocent people, and that such a recognition would jeopardize the chimerical and fruitless “peace process.”
Trump, by contrast, grasped the nettle, just as he has done so in confronting an establishment media bent on discrediting and destroying him, and a Democrat and Republic political establishment determined to do the same thing. He is a rare man of courage, and courage is inspiring. The Iranians who are risking their freedom and their very lives to stand up also against violent intimidation and take to the streets all over Iran the last few days are likewise manifesting immense courage, such that the world rarely sees these days. Yet as they stand for their freedom, if they are abandoned again, as Barack Obama abandoned the Iranian protesters in 2009, it will all come to naught.
But Barack Obama is gone, and Donald Trump is President. For the people of Iran, have the man and the moment met?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His new book is Confessions of an Islamophobe. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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