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Are Iranians at cusp of freedom? 4 ways the US can help

A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran on September 21, 2022, shows Iranian demonstrators taking to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody.
A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran on September 21, 2022, shows Iranian demonstrators taking to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. | AFP via Getty Images

Since the inception of the ruling regime in Iran, Iranian women have been at the forefront of a constant battle against religious tyranny. They were the first group that poured into the streets of Tehran en masse to protest against Khomeini’s imposition of the Hijab as a mandatory dress code for women in Iran. It was the Iranian mothers who, in pursuit of justice for their murdered children, raised the world’s awareness of the atrocities of a brutal regime against its people.

Similarly, it has been Iranian women like Nasreen Sotoudeh, Golrokh Iraee, Soheila Hejab, Shirin Ebadi, and many others who have been the voice of the voiceless. They speak for children, dissidents, political prisoners, activists, and others at great personal cost. And today, we are witnessing the early stages of a revolution, a final movement for freedom from the rule of a tyrannical theocracy that has destroyed Iran in its fullest sense. This includes the Iranian people, culture, economy, and natural environment. It includes the decimation of the population’s quality of life and life expectancy. The people now suffer despair, hopelessness, financial collapse, addiction, mass migration, and brain drain.

Some weeks ago, a beautiful young Iranian Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini who had traveled to Tehran with her family was arrested by the Morality Police (Gashte Ershad) for not properly wearing her headscarf. Two hours later, her lifeless body was dropped off at the emergency room of a hospital. She was soon pronounced dead. And this galvanized the brave Iranian women all across the land to rise and settle their 43-year-old grievances with the ruling Ayatollahs. An act that was instantaneously supported by their husbands’, brothers’ sons’, and fathers’ participation.

Despite the pronounced lack of true support from Western democracies and the firm endorsement of regimes like Russia, China, and even indirectly by the E.U., Iranians seem determined to overthrow their oppressors and reclaim their country.  Although it began with the brave women of Iran burning their scarves in public, the movement has rapidly transformed into a cry for regime change and the overthrow of the Mullahs’ rule. In their chants, there is no longer a call for the ban of the barbaric and misogynistic mandatory dress codes. Their chants are a strong and unified call for the end of this regime. A call for democracy and rule of law. A call for equality for all. A call for freedom of religion, belief, and thought.

A call for the most basic of human rights that we enjoy in the United States. A call for freedom.

In addition, as you may know, a few months ago there was an assassination attempt on Salman Rushdie’s life in New York, from which Mr. Rushdie sustained serious injuries. The would-be assassin was carrying out Khomeini’s decree (fatwa) from over 30 years ago. Meanwhile, Khamenei’s regime and propaganda apparatus have praised the would-be assassin as a martyr and have brazenly declared that former President Trump, former Secretary Pompeo, John Bolton, and others are next. The disturbing underlying thread here is that the would-be assassin is an admirer of Ghasem Soleymani, Khamenei, and the ruling regime in Iran.

He had been ideologically influenced by the regime in Iran. And he was apparently in the United States legally. Please remember that currently, there are five open decrees for the assassination of former President Trump, former Secretary Pompeo, Special Representative Brian Hook, Morgan Ortagus, and John Bolton. There is a very real threat of assassination of U.S. officials of the highest ranks, and U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil, driven by the Islamic Republic.

A critical point to consider is that since the Islamic Republic’s inception, both Khomeini and Khamenei have consistently declared that their regime is at war with its number one enemy, the United States, which makes the Islamic Republic a hostile regime and enemy of the United States, as proven by repeated attacks on Americans and U.S. interests all across the globe.

Yet today, we are witnessing the disturbing development that Khamenei's regime has managed to open many so-called Islamic centers all across the United States with the sole purpose of spreading its diseased ideology and training generations of ideologues to carry out his regime’s objectives in the United States. Recently, we witnessed such an event in an Islamic center in Houston, Texas where young children dressed like Hezbollah members pledged allegiance to Khamenei and his regime, professing to be his martyrs when they grow up.

The ruling regime in Iran has managed to accomplish all these seemingly impossible objectives by taking advantage of our democratic values and abusing the amazing work that everyone does to advance religious freedom across the world. In other words, they are propagating hate, division, and a very dangerous ideology, all in the name of religious freedom. They are training and indoctrinating generations of American children to hate America and its democratic values, and to harm Americans. And tragically, this is not limited to the United States. They have been pursuing the same goals and objectives all across Canada, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina.

The irrefutable truth is that the world will be a better, safer, and more prosperous place without the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian people are on the cusp of gaining their freedom and reclaiming their country after 43 years of enduring the most unimaginable human and financial costs. And the ruling Mullahs are fully aware of their fate should the people prevail, which makes them extremely desperate and dangerous. They know that this uprising is different. They know it is an existential fight for them. As such, they are prepared to massacre hundreds of thousands of Iranians if need be.

The United States of America, as the leader of the free world, can play a pivotal role in helping the Iranian people in their struggles and drastically reduce the number of casualties and deaths in the process with the following actions:

1. Announcing its unwavering support for the Iranian people and their struggles for freedom, accompanied by meaningful actions.

2. Providing uninterrupted, dependable internet access to Iranians for constant and instantaneous coverage of the events in Iran.

3. Providing continuous, unbiased coverage of the events in Iran to inform not only the American public, but the whole world, of the horrendous atrocities happening in Iran - unlike the favorable CBS 60 Minutes interview with Ebrahim Raisi, an indicted mass murderer responsible for the execution of tens of thousands of Iranians.

4. Enforcing current sanctions and implementing new ones, thereby cutting off the financial lifeline of the regime.

5. Leading an international campaign to isolate the ruling regime in Iran both economically and diplomatically.

None of these measures require the sacrifice of a single American life or impose a financial burden on the American people. I ask everyone to please help confront this evil regime and stop its dangerous abuse of the Iranian people and our American democracy.

Hamid Gharagozloo is a representative of the International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR) in Washington, D.C.

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