We see all kinds of faces at the rallies that have rocked Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who was arrested by vice squads. The wrinkled, the determined, the tanned, the unveiled and many young people. Students rallied last weekend before being confronted by riot police, who cornered them in an underground car park at Tehran’s Sharif Technical University before arresting them. Since then, schoolgirls have taken power across the country, using a variety of tactics, including taking off their veils and shouting anti-conservative slogans.
In verified video, young girls chant “Death to the Dictator” in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at a school in Karaj, west of Tehran, with their heads bare on Monday. Another group of girls sings “Woman, Life, Freedom” while parading down a street. “These are really extraordinary scenes. If these demonstrations get anywhere, it’s the schoolgirls,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj of information and analytics site Bourse & Bazaar.
Nika Shahkarami, 16, died after a protest
Other videos posted online show schoolgirls leaving classrooms to march through various locations around the city in blitz protests to avoid detection. Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri on Wednesday acknowledged that young people were involved in the protests and denounced the influence of social networks. “The fact that 16-year-olds are present at these events is provoked by social media, they are trapped,” he said, while the regime castigates Israeli-US-led demonstrations.
Education Minister Yousef Nouri, quoted by the IRNA agency, told him that “the enemy’s attacks were aimed at both universities and the world of science and education”. On Wednesday, the NGO Human Rights Watch said it had verified 16 videos posted on social media showing “police and other security forces using excessive and deadly force against protesters” in Tehran and other cities. Social networks had reported earlier in the day that teenager Nika Shahkarami had been killed by security forces during the demonstrations.