Fireworks and defiance: Iranians mark fire festival with anti-regime protests
Iranians in several cities took to the streets late on Tuesday to express their opposition to their theocratic leaders, using celebrations linked to a traditional fire festival as a platform.
Every year on the last Tuesday night of the Iranian calendar year, which ends on March 20, Iranians celebrate the Chaharshanbeh Suri festival, a pre-Islamic tradition that involves leaping over bonfires to keep away evil spirits.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
The festival is not officially endorsed but is popular among young people. It festival also results in significant casualties every year, with this year’s celebrations resulting in 11 deaths and over 3,500 injuries, according to Iran’s emergency services chief.
Watch: Women in Iran’s capital, Tehran, throw their mandatory headscarves into a bonfire as celebrations linked to a traditional fire festival spark fresh anti-regime protests.https://t.co/xmWwtQlXXq pic.twitter.com/yoFKZttLMK— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 15, 2023
The festival comes after months-long protests that erupted in Iran in September following the death in custody of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, who died shortly after being arrested by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress rules for women.
Videos posted on Twitter by the activist group 1500tasvir showed acts of defiance taking place in several parts of Iran, including the capital Tehran, with protesters chanting slogans against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Watch: Protesters in #Iran’s city of Rasht chant against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as Iranians use celebrations linked to a traditional fire festival as a platform to express their opposition to their theocratic leaders.https://t.co/xmWwtQlXXq pic.twitter.com/UtSt8IReQI— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 15, 2023
One video showed Iranians in Tehran throwing fireworks at security forces on motorcycles, while another showed two individuals in an unspecified city throwing fireworks at a billboard featuring the late IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani.
In another video from Tehran, a crowd gathered around a bonfire with women throwing their headscarves into the fire.
Other videos posted on Twitter showed protests in Bandar Anzali, Khorramabad, Doroud, Rasht Bukan, Karaj, Esfahan, and Sanandaj, with demonstrators chanting slogans against Khamenei and the IRGC.
The protests that followed Amini’s death have largely subsided due to a deadly crackdown by the regime. However, some observers believe that the protests may reignite as the underlying grievances have yet to be addressed.