Study: Most Iranians want regime change as country’s protests continue to grow
As protests against the Islamic regime continue in Iran, a new study by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change found that 84% of Iranians support regime change. The study also found that Iranian society has become more secular, spanning both genders, all age groups, and rural and urban areas.
The findings were published on Tuesday by Kasra Aarabi and Jemima Shelley, and compare polls from June 2020 and February 2022. It revealed overwhelming support for the anti-mandatory hijab policy with 70% of men and 74% of the women who opposed it. More than three-quarters of respondents consider that religion is not important in their lives and prefer a more secular life than the current theocratic one.
The study comes at a time of intense pressure against the regime following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died two months ago after allegedly being attacked by the regime’s morality police in September for not wearing the hijab properly.
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The demonstrations have spread to 140 cities and towns, posing the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic in more than a decade. At least 326 protesters, including 43 children and 25 women, have been killed in a violent crackdown by security forces, according to Iran Human Rights Watch. Some groups claim that more than 500 protesters have been killed.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency, based outside the country, said 15,800 protesters had been arrested. It has also reported the death of 39 security agents.
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The Tony Blair Institute study was carried out with the Group for the Analysis and Measurement of Attitudes in Iran. Given the Iranian government’s censorship and monitoring of its citizens, the group used encrypted online surveys, digital tools and other alternative methods to securely capture the honest opinions of Iranians. Organizers said that by doing so, participants could truthfully answer questions about sensitive topics without fearing for their safety.
Kasra Aarabi, head of the Iran program at TBI’s Extremism Policy Unit and co-author of the paper, noted that over the past decade, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program has dominated Western politics and the media agenda about Iran. “However, this could not be further from the truth. Dissent in Iran is being fueled by life under a totalitarian misogynistic ideological regime that has consistently prioritized the interest of its hardline Islamist ideology over of the Iranian people.”
“The survey published in our newspaper today makes it clear that these protests are not about reform but about total regime change,” he added.
Jemima Shelley, researcher at TBI’s Extremism Policy Unit and co-author of the new paper, articulated that the mandatory hijab is not just a women’s rights issue; represents one of the critical pillars of the regime’s authoritarian rule over all Iranians.”
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In his institute’s report, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the Iranian protesters for their “extraordinary bravery and courage over the past two months.” Blair also called on the international community “to show our deep solidarity with the protesters who are risking their lives for what we so often take for granted”. Blair continued: “It is time for us in the West to recalibrate our policy in a way that draws a clear distinction between the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic. Our efforts should serve the former.”
UN human rights chief Volker Turk on Tuesday denounced Iran’s increasingly harsh and deadly crackdown on mass protests. He urged the Iranian authorities to address people’s demands for equality, dignity and rights instead of using “unnecessary or disproportionate force to suppress protests. The lack of accountability for serious human rights violations in Iran remains persistent and contributes to growing complaints.”
The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session to address “the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran” on Thursday, November 24.
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