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A woman cries in support of Mahsa Amini and Iran's women's movement

Reuters/ GZERO Media

Why Iran’s protests are different this time

They come from the capital city and from rural townships. Some wear makeup and jeans while others are clad in traditional robes though they leave their silver hair uncovered. They are all Iranian women uniting against the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime.

Nationwide protests – that have spread to Iran's 31 provinces – broke out on Sept. 17 after Mahsa Amini, 22, a young Iranian woman, was allegedly beaten to death by the regime’s “morality police” for failing to fully cover her hair.

🌖A symbol like the moon🌖. Mahsa, a name of Persian origin that means like the moon, has emerged as a symbol of the ayatollahs’ oppressive system that sometimes sends women to “reeducation centers” for failing to comply with strict modesty requirements – sometimes with deadly consequences.

Iran has a long tradition of mass demonstrations, including those that led to the 1979 revolution and the country’s current system of clerical despotism. However, in recent years many of the country’s mass movements have had their momentum halted by brute government force. Will this time be different?

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An Iranian woman living in Turkey, Istanbul, after she cut her hair during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Iran protests spread, Putin mobilizes, NY sues Trumps, China faces slow growth

Iranian protests swell

Protests across Iran have now spread to 15 cities – and countries including Turkey, the US, and Germany – after a 22-year-old woman was apprehended and beaten to death by the Islamic Republic’s morality police. Mahsa Amini, from the western Kurdish region, was arrested in Tehran last week for failing to comply with the regime’s stringent hair-covering requirements. She died in custody last Friday. Women around the country have responded by burning their headscarves and cutting their hair in public displays of opposition to the oppressive treatment of women. What’s more, the hacker collective “Anonymous” has thrown its support behind the protests, which have led to at least three deaths and dozens of injuries. “Anonymous” says it hacked two government websites, including one focused on publishing government news (propaganda). Iranian officials claim the young woman died in custody from preexisting conditions and that it was investigating the case. But they also blamed foreign countries and opposition groups for the growing unrest. Meanwhile, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi heads back to Tehran on Thursday after addressing the UN General Assembly in New York. We’re watching to see whether the crackdown on protesters, the biggest since the 2009 Green Movement was violently quashed by Iranian forces, will intensify once Raisi is out of the international spotlight.

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Malala Yousafzai speaks during the Transforming Education Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan, New York.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: UNGA meets amid global crises, Hungary scrambles to secure EU funds, protests persist in Iran

UNGA high-level talks begin

World leaders are gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York this week for the annual General Assembly. The event kicked off Monday with a summit on education. On the plus side, they’re attending in person for the first time since the pandemic began. On the down side, the world is as divided as it’s been at any time since the Cold War. An overarching item on the agenda will be the ongoing war in Ukraine — debate will focus not only on how to end the war, but also the extent to which the nations of the world are willing to hold Russia accountable for starting the conflict and for potential war crimes. A second but related issue is the ongoing global food crisis, which has been worsened by the war in Ukraine despite a recent agreement to resume grain shipments from Ukrainian ports. The UN World food program is worried food prices could continue to rise over the next five years. Third is climate change, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that “the message to world leaders is clear: lower the temperature — now.”

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