Iranian protests collide with the country’s revolution anniversary

The 44th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution was on Saturday.

Iranian protests collide with the country’s revolution anniversary
Screenshot from the video played by hackers during Iran's President Raisi's speech. 

The backstory: The Iranian Revolution happened in 1979 when different groups like the secularists, Islamists and leftists all united to overthrow the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He’d gotten power through a coup in 1953 with the support of Western countries, like the US and the UK, that overthrew the democratic leadership. When the revolution began, it was with the hopes of bringing back democracy and booting out the autocratic Shah. After his removal, the Islamic Republic was installed, which modern critics accuse of also being autocratic and against dissent.

More recently: Toward the end of last year, the death of Mahsa Amini after being detained by the morality police triggered international demonstrations against the Islamic Republic. To deal with this unrest, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s government has arrested thousands of protesters and executed some people whose crimes were linked to the demonstrations. The ongoing protests have since become less about the morality police and law enforcement and more anti-government overall. According to the rights group HRANA, 528 protesters have been killed so far (71 minors), and 70 government security forces have died. The group estimates that over 19,000 protesters have been arrested. Many of those prisoners were released under a nationwide amnesty.

The development: The 44th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution was on Saturday. During the anniversary ceremony in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi blamed “enemies” for causing the unrest, specifically the US and allies. But during his speech, a hacker group interrupted the broadcast with footage of a masked person encouraging more street protests and for Iranians to take their money out of banks. The broadcast returned to live coverage of Raisi after several seconds. After that, the streaming website showed military demonstrations and celebrations of the anniversary across the country.  

Key comments:

“I say to the enemies; you want to hear the word of the people? These are the great people of Iran,” said President Raisi on Saturday, as the crowd chanted “death to America” and “death to Israel.” Later, Raisi said, “Those who have been deceived by the enemy now know that the enemy’s issue is neither woman nor life or freedom or human rights, but it wants to take away the independence and the tranquil life of the Iranian nation.”

“Death to the Islamic Republic,” said the masked person during the hacker group’s video interruption.