Comedian Omid Djalili says regime change more likely than reform in Iran

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Change in Iran is “inevitable,” Iranian-British comedian Omid Djalili has said, adding that it is more likely to occur through regime change rather than reform.

“I think change is inevitable … when young people are seeing that people are living a free life and [they] don’t have the same freedoms inside Iran, the young people are going to protest. They are going to say, ‘What is this?’ So change is inevitable,” Djalili told Al Arabiya English’s Riz Khan.

Djalili said that the key question is whether the regime will be toppled or if it will reform itself. “From what we see when they’re cracking down even more, I don’t see any change coming from that particular regime,” he added.

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Djalili said that Iranians have been demanding change since shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which he said did not meet their expectations. “They didn’t think this was going to be a hardline Islamic kind of, hardline extremist revolution. So there was a lot of pushback there.”

Iran has experienced multiple waves of anti-regime protests in recent years, most recently in 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was detained by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women. Her death triggered months-long protests that led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests.

Since shortly after the 1979 revolution, covering the neck and head has been mandatory for women in Iran. Following the protests sparked by Amini’s death, more women have been defying these dress codes, but Iranian police have recently intensified enforcement.

Iran presidential election

The country is set to hold a presidential election on Friday to replace the late president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.

A significant portion of the population is expected to boycott the vote. The Islamic Republic has traditionally relied on voter turnout to demonstrate its legitimacy.

In Iran, the supreme leader, not the president, holds ultimate authority over all state matters, including foreign policy and the nuclear program. Ali Khamenei, 85, has been Iran’s supreme leader since 1989.

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