In 2017, Antifa took American campuses by storm. Radically Left, vehemently anti-Trump, black-clad vandals swarmed last year to protest conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro and to declare their contempt for free speech. Violence and property destruction were their calling cards, all supposedly in the name of “anti-fascism.”
As 2018 begins, a different kind of protest has captured the attention of the world. For days now In Iran, anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets. Rising prices, high unemployment, and the brutality of the government have stirred discontent. On Thursday, a protest began in the city of Mashhad. Reports say most gathered were adults under 40. And this spark, aided by social media, ignited a fire across Iran.
This long-suffering people cries out for liberty in opposition to the Islamist regime led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his cohorts. The few videos of the demonstrations that have escaped the regime’s tyrannical suppression of social media show mass demonstrations against Khamenei, against President Hassan Rouhani, and against true oppression. “Death to the Islamic Republic!” brave freedom fighters cry.
#IranProtests: Hundreds of thousands across #Iran chant "We don't want Islamic Republic!" & "Clerics shame on you, let go of our country!" Woman in video took off her #Hijab to protest Islamic dress code imposed on Iranian women since 1979. #IStandWithHer pic.twitter.com/CHNwrTsWPA
— Mark Vallen (@mark_vallen) December 29, 2017
This was just the beginning. According to Al Jazeera, the protests are escalating “much faster than anticipated.”
“It wasn’t expected to be anything beyond the slogans against the administration and the president,” said Negar Mortazavi, a journalist for self-described independent online news service Iran International. “But, it seems like the dissent within the Iranian population is so much deeper; that this has gone beyond the presidency and all the way up to the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], which is very worrisome for all factions of the establishment.”
Khamenei has blamed the unrest on “enemies” of the state. The police have been mobilized and are using force and tear gas to quash the demonstrations. The Iranian government has severely restricted internet access amid the violence, making exact reporting on the extent of the protests and the reaction by the government difficult. The estimates from Iranian state media indicate that at least 20 people have died and more than 450 people have been arrested, with many to face the death penalty.
The regime’s response is in character. This is a government that is regularly condemned for numerous human rights abuses. Crimes such as “insulting the Prophet,” apostasy, homosexuality, adultery, and drug-related offenses are all punishable by death. Those jailed are often tortured. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and other natural rights are denied in the Islamic “Republic.”
This is, in a very real sense, a true fascist regime. That makes the bravery of these real anti-fascist Iranian protesters all the more admirable in contrast to the absurdity of leftist Antifa.
While Antifa radicals in America cosplay with black masks, while they scheme to do harm and reveal themselves as petty thugs with each swing of a bike chain, the Iranian people suffer. In America, the radical Left decries speech as violence. In Iran, speech is silenced with violence.
Iranians are dying for the cause of liberty. Those protesting understand what it means to live under a government that has abdicated its responsibility to secure their rights and has instead inflicted oppression upon its people. The moral stand taken by the these Iranians ought to put Antifa to shame and inspire all lovers of freedom to make common cause with the Iranian people.
Ironically, the most consequential voice in support of the Iranian anti-fascists is Antifa public enemy number one: President Donald Trump. Whereas the 2009 Green Movement uprising went ignored by the Obama administration, President Trump has declared, “The world is watching,” insisting that the “brutal and corrupt” regime in Iran will come to an end, as “oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.”
When the time came, President Trump, leading America, stood with the anti-fascist Iranian people in support of freedom. This is proper for an American president, and the whole world should follow his example in demanding freedom for the Iranian people and an end to the fascist, terrorist-supporting, Islamic Iranian regime.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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