Iran protests: Crowds in Tehran refuse to walk on U.S. and Israeli flags

  
Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one week ago  •  7 comments

By:   Alexander Smith and Caroline Radnofsky

Iran protests: Crowds in Tehran refuse to walk on U.S. and Israeli flags
"Iranian protesters are likely very aware that the Iranian regime uses legitimate grievances against the United States and Israel to deflect criticism."

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


A week after millions of Iranians flooded the streets following the death of   one of the country's top generals , Qassem Soleimani, a contrasting symbolic image played out in Tehran on Sunday.

Crowds of people outside Beheshti University refused to trample over giant U.S. and Israeli flags that had been painted on the ground, according to video filmed at the scene that has been verified by NBC News.


This appeared to be a symbolic gesture, given that walking on, or burning, these flags has been a feature of previous demonstrations.

Encouraging marchers to do the same may have been why they were painted in the street outside the university. And declining to comply was likely one way for the protesters to send a message to the government, according to H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank in London.

"Iranian protesters are likely very aware that the Iranian regime uses legitimate grievances against the United States and Israel to deflect criticism," said Hellyer, who is also a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank.

"By not stepping on their flags, they're unlikely to be showing support for the U.S. and Israel, but more just sending a message to the regime that they aren't interested in deflection," he said.

200113-iran-protests-mc-1030_bcc397faa6e A woman attends talking to a policeman Saturday while attending a candlelight vigil in Tehran in memory of those killed in the plane crash. Mona Hoobehfekr / AFP - Getty Images

In Tehran and elsewhere, anger on the streets has been palpable. The country is   in the midst of three days of angry demonstrations   after the government admitted it   accidentally shot down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet   during a military confrontation with the United States.

After three days of denials, the Iranian government admitted Saturday that one of its missiles had downed the plane and killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians. The country had just   fired missiles at U.S. forces in neighboring Iraq   in retaliation for a drone strike directed by President Donald Trump that killed Soleimani.

Although this admission of guilt by the government appeared to be the trigger for the protests, they have since expanded into a wider call for democratic reforms and a critique of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and others.

Some of the protesters have called for Khamenei to stand down, and there have been clashes between demonstrators and security forces. One video appeared to show the aftermath of a woman being shot in Tehran, although police have denied firing at the crowds over the weekend.

Another piece of footage showed a commemorative roadside banner of Soleimani that had been set alight, and elsewhere protesters were seen ripping down and stomping on posters of the dead general.

"Our protests were about all of the irresponsibility of the regime, not just the plane. The plane was the trigger of this protest," said Elhan, 29, one of those who took to the streets in Tehran.

She asked not to publish her last name for fear of reprisals, telling NBC News by phone Monday that the demonstrators "just want a true democracy … we are so angry and sad."

200113-iran-protests-mc-10302_bcc397faa6 Iranians students demonstrate in Tehran on Saturday. Atta Kenare / AFP - Getty Images

It's not the first time that Iranians have made a point about refusing to disrespect the U.S. and Israeli flags. In 2016, a prominent professor, Sadegh Zibakalam, went to great lengths to avoid this — shimmying along an adjacent railing rather than walking on the ground on which they had been painted.

Students in particular have employed other tactics over the years to show that they are unwilling to toe the government's line.

"When regime representatives shout 'death to America! death to Israel!' over a loudspeaker, the students chant back 'death to Russia! death to China!' said Gissou Nia, a human rights lawyer and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. "It's not because the students actually want death to those nations, it's just to show the world that they are not aligned with the regime's world view. "

While refusing to walk on flags isn't new, what is significant about this weekend's protesters is that they took to the streets knowing it carried a great risk to their lives, according to Holly Dagres, a nonresident fellow also at the Atlantic Council.

It was just last November when   anti-government demonstrations last broke out across Iran , with people initially angry about a hike in gasoline prices but soon calling for other political freedoms.

The U.S.'s special representative for Iran Brian Hook has said that more than 1,000 Iranian citizens may have been killed in the ensuing clashes. Although Iran has disputed any figures on the death toll as "purely speculative" and "highly inaccurate."

"Despite knowing full well that their brothers and sisters were just killed, the protesters this week are willing to take to the streets and sacrifice their lives to have their voices heard against the Iranian government," Dagres said. "That is courageous and impressive."

These demonstrations took place days after a mass outpouring of grief, or at least dissatisfaction, following Soleimani's death. The funeral procession in his hometown of Kerman was so packed that   dozens of people died in a stampede .

For many experts, Iran is too often seen in the West as a simple, homogeneous entity that thinks and acts in a unified manner.

Of course the reality is far more nuanced in this nation of 82 million people that features many "diverse political strands," according to Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, a university in London.

Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
smarty_function_ntUser_is_admin: user_id parameter required
Find text within the comments Find 
 
 
 
jungkonservativ111
1  jungkonservativ111    one week ago

Iranians burn flags of the dead general. Our liberals here are still mourning him. This country is really messed up.

On a positive note. Trump's show of power has Iranians hesitant to chant death to American and insult our culture. Watch and learn libs. Power over capitulation sure gets pretty nice results. 

 
 
 
Krishna
1.1  Krishna  replied to  jungkonservativ111 @1    one week ago
Watch and learn libs

All the "libs" I know are strongly opposed to right-wing theocratic governments....

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
1.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Krishna @1.1    one week ago
All the "libs" I know are strongly opposed to right-wing theocratic governments.

Unless they are sufficiently  anti-American. That's always the most important criteria. 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  jungkonservativ111 @1    one week ago

You kind of missed the point of the article ( other than to get your message out there). The point being is that this was a turning point, so much so, that they are no longer mad at the US or Israel.

And this had nada to do with Trump. This had to do with the fact that the Iranian government made a critical mistake. It might have not happened had we not taken out their general, but then again, who knows? They are always a bit edgy. 

 
 
 
Ronin2
1.2.1  Ronin2  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2    6 days ago
It might have not happened had we not taken out their general

It would not have happened if we had not taken out their general, and Trump hadn't threatened severe retaliation for any attacks against US personnel by Iran militia or Iran.

Iran was very jumpy when they fired the missiles. If Trump mistook their show of defiance they fully expected an inbound attack. It was a stupid game of chicken they were playing. Trump didn't have to do anything- the Iranians did it to themselves this time.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    6 days ago
It would not have happened if we had not taken out their general, and Trump hadn't threatened severe retaliation for any attacks against US personnel by Iran militia or Iran.

While yes he did take out the general, no he didn't retaliate for the missiles shot at our bases. 

Trump didn't have to do anything- the Iranians did it to themselves this time.

Well, that is quite true!

 
 
 
forgotten46544
3  forgotten46544    6 days ago

They kill their citizens with missiles and bullets while America kills  with pills and pens.

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online



GregTx
Old Hermit


28 visitors