In Iran, the minors join the protest. The regime faces a challenge and is in danger of losing control of the schools.
BERLIN taz | “Death to the USA,” shouts the principal over the loudspeaker. Normally the schoolgirls would respond with a loud “Death to the USA”. Perhaps one or two not comfortable with this would remain silent. But these days things are different: “Death to the dictator”, the students answer in the choir. The director tries again. In vain: “Death to the dictator”.
The scene is one of thousands of protests at schools in Iran, which has been rocked by protests for more than two months. The uprising reached a new peak last week with further mass protests; On Friday, videos apparently showing the house of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, were circulating on the Internet. According to government critics, it was set on fire.
It is a new challenge for the security apparatus that this time there are also protests in the schools. Even teachers took part, reports a teacher who teaches in several girls’ high schools in a poorer district of Tehran, the taz. Many of her colleagues would simply ignore instructions from the Ministry of Education.
The schoolgirls also express their dissatisfaction by taking off their headscarves. A number of photos of schoolyards show that a large proportion of the schoolgirls are out and about without a headscarf. Clergy, high-ranking officials from school authorities and other regime representatives are sometimes greeted with boos by the students.
Some teachers have also decided to omit the lessons on the hijab and other ideological issues in the textbooks, the teacher says. “At one school, the school management made participation in the common prayer voluntary, after which not a single student entered the prayer room.”
Special forces in front of the school gate
This presents the Iranian regime with a dilemma: cracking down on the schools would hardly be justifiable. But widespread school closures are also out of the question, because in order to justify this, the state would first have to recognize the crisis, which protesters across the country could claim as a victory for themselves.
Another one Video circulating on social media. It is November 4th, the anniversary of the hostage-taking at the US embassy in Tehran in the revolutionary year 1979. The clip shows a US flag lying on the floor in a school in Tabriz for the students to symbolically kick it . But the girls neatly avoid the flag.
The protest is also emanating from the schools: reports Small demonstrations after school are so frequent that the school directors have been instructed not to let the students go through different doors at the same time and if possible only.
A teacher in Tehran reports to the taz: “Every day we see dozens of cars full of civilian militias in front of the school. During the breaks, we worry that the children will shout slogans in front of the windows and the militia will shoot at them. The teachers try to keep the children away from the windows.” A student from another district of Tehran confirms: “We often see special police forces in front of the school on the way home.”
47 minors killed
There have already been violent clashes: On October 11, schools in Ardebil in the north-west of the country were instructed to take students to a state-organized rally in the city center. There, however, many did not shout the desired slogans, but protest slogans.
The civilian militias of the Revolutionary Guards then pushed the students of a high school back to their school, where they are said to have beaten some. At least three ended up in the hospital; 15-year-old Asra Panahi died the following day. Also from the Kurdish areas in Iran, where the pressure on the protesters is higher overall, there are reports of special forces invading schools, for example in Bukan.
A total of at least 47 minors have died in the last two months. They were mostly beaten to death or shot. This means that children and young people make up a significant part of the 378 fatalities of the uprising. The number includes only those that could be identified. The number of unreported cases is possibly significantly higher.
A particularly dramatic example is the story of Nika Shahkarami. Noisy Research by CNN the 16-year-old led other protesters on September 20 and threw stones at security forces. They followed her for hours and arrested her. The family was only allowed to see her body ten days later. According to CNN, she was beaten to death with batons.
While earlier protests in Iran were mainly carried out by students, the resistance against the Islamic Republic is currently not only across social classes, but also across generations. The regime is in danger of losing control of the country’s schools, despite 43 years of tough teacher selection processes and a thoroughly ideologically infused education system.