“Among young people, there is a very strong rejection of political Islam, or even of Islam itself”

“Among young people, there is a very strong rejection of political Islam, or even of Islam itself”
“Among young people, there is a very strong rejection of political Islam, or even of Islam itself”

The April 13 drone attack on Israel overshadowed what was happening inside the Islamic Republic. What is happening in Iran today?

We are witnessing a very aggressive wave of repression. This is happening in every city in the country and in every neighborhood, even the most bourgeois and westernized. The regime plays a very opaque game, with many militiamen in civilian clothes who are sent to harass and call to order women who do not wear the veil. Sending militiamen allows us not to take direct responsibility for a possible incident; the lessons of the Mahsa Amini affair have been learned by the regime.

It should be noted that this new wave of repression was announced by the Supreme Leader, in the same speech as his promise of reprisals against Israel after the attack on the consulate in Syria. He put the two things in parallel, military reaction and veil, as if the two were part of the same logic.

How does this repression against women manifest itself?

Today, with the return of spring, we see many women who no longer wear anything on their heads. Mahsa Amini gave a breath of immense courage! Women have passed the taboo stage. They assume they have their hair out in the open air. However, for the regime, the veil is a fundamental issue, because it is based on the control of women’s bodies. The mandatory dress code for women has evolved since the 1980s, but showing legs, arms and hair is still prohibited.

In the past, Iranian women have played a lot with these rules, and the body has become a space for political combat. Today, in many large cities, the refusal to wear the veil has become out of control. The regime is outdated. This does not only concern Tehran, which is an extremely cosmopolitan city, but also Isfahan and the west of the country which is less populated. It is a general movement, over which the regime no longer has control and against which it is trying to regain control.

Where is the “Woman, Life, Liberty” movement today? Has repression got the better of it?

We must move away from the traditional movement-mobilization scheme. In Iran, there is no CGT or free unions like in France. We must instead be interested in the evolution of mentalities and morals. Everything is happening very quickly, we are currently witnessing a major movement of secularization in Iranian society. The idea of ​​secularism is very popular among young people, there is a very strong rejection of political Islam, or even Islam itself.

There are certainly no demonstrations in the streets, but people continue to discuss, exchange and think. Today, all it takes is a spark for the mobilization to take off again, because the movement is not dead. For four decades, the regime has relied on Islamist propaganda instilled from a very young age, and it is clear that despite this, young people are becoming Westernized in an almost irremediable way. No dictatorship in the world knows such a gap with its society!

Rapper Tommaj Salehi, figure of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, has just been sentenced to death by the regime. Who is he and what do we blame him for?

Tommaj was already well known to Iranians before the movement, he is the rapper most committed against the Islamic Republic. It was he who broke the most taboos, by saying things very clearly after the death of Mahsa Amini. He immediately took a stand by taking to the streets. He was arrested, tortured then released, before returning to fight and then being arrested again.

Today, by sentencing him to death, the regime wants to break a symbol and show where the red lines are. It’s about instilling fear, for a regime that was built on terror and arbitrariness. The idea is to scare anyone who would try to follow his fight. And to prevent young people or other celebrities from taking a stand against the regime.

What can France do? Some are calling for the exclusion of Iran from the Paris Olympics…

You should know that the veil is obligatory for Iranian sportswomen, even in swimming. In Paris, women will therefore be forced to veil themselves and, if they refuse, will not be able to return to Iran. The Olympic Committee must take this into account before making any decision. In general, Western sanctions must be much stronger and much more targeted against regime dignitaries. Some continue to travel back and forth to the West without being worried. We must act, not be satisfied with words and communication. At the same time, France must not abandon Iranian civil society, particularly in terms of scientific cooperation, which is seriously losing ground.

On social networks, Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei welcomed the pro-Gaza mobilizations currently taking place in France and around the world. What message is he trying to send to the Iranians?

What you need to know is that there is overall a lot of indifference among Iranians regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The population deplores the deaths on both sides, they are sensitive to the fate of Palestinian civilians, but there is also a lot of hatred against Hamas because it is an ally of the Islamic Republic and the Iranians are well placed to know the cruelties of political Islam.

French students must be careful about the images they send to the world. We must not fall into naivety, there is a war of disinformation and recovery orchestrated by Iran in the Middle East. For the Islamic Republic, these images on campus are blessed bread! The regime’s dignitaries will take advantage of this to manipulate them and continue their attempts at destabilization abroad, perhaps with a desire to create tensions in the run-up to the Paris Olympics.

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