Roughly one year ago, the death of a young Kurdish Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini in police custody lit the fuse that would set off months of protests that rocked Iran and its hardline government, creating the greatest challenge to its rule in decades.
Amini, just 22 years old, was arrested for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab, the headscarf women are required to wear under Iran’s highly conservative Islamic Republic. She died after allegedly suffering multiple blows to the head. Iranian authorities claimed no wrongdoing and said Amini died of a heart attack; but her family, and masses of Iranians, accused the government of a cover-up.
The protests spread across the country and evolved from being focused on women’s rights to demanding the downfall of the entire Iranian regime. They led to severe crackdowns and frequent internet blackouts by Iranian authorities, as well as thousands of arrests and several executions.
But what many people hoped would become a full-on popular revolution failed to shatter the regime’s hold on power; instead, the repression intensified. Still, resistance continues in varying forms, many Iranians say.
“One year on, Iranian protesters continue to show the world that they have and continue to risk life and limb by coming out against the Islamic Republic,” Behnam ben Taleblu, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told CNBC.
“Iran’s violent suppression of protestors was merged with the regime’s weaponization of cyberspace and the judiciary,” he said, “all of which were mobilized in a failed bid to demoralize Iranians.”