Iranians have been staging audacious protests against the government after it admitted to shooting down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people, having denied responsibility for several days.
Students have broken previous taboos, such as criticizing the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and refusing to walk on Israeli and American flags printed on the pavement – a practice encouraged by the regime.
The latest protests came days after large crowds attended the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, the powerful military leader who was assassinated by the US military on January 5. The government had claimed that the Iranian people were united in grief at the killing, but protesters have since been filmed chanting slogans against Soleimani and ripping posters of his face off walls.
Videos from the protests have gone viral on social media, as the Iranian government has not yet shutdown the internet as it did during protests in November.
1. “IRGC, Basij, you are ISIS!”
One common chant calls out the Iranian regime and compares the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the associated Basij militia to ISIS, the Sunni terrorist group.
2. “Dictatorial IRGC, you are our ISIS”
Another video shows protesters chanting “Dictatorial IRGC, you are our ISIS,” outside the Sharif University campus in the capital Tehran.
3. “Soleimani is a murderer, and his leader (Khamenei) is also a murderer.”
Other protesters called out slain IRGC commander Soleimani, accusing him of being a murderer. The reference to his leader is an implied reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is rarely criticized in public in Iran.
“Soleimani is a murderer, and his leader (Khamenei) is also a murderer,” protesters in Tehran, Iran, chant as activists say demonstrations are spreading to other cities like Isfahan and Shiraz.https://t.co/muQwHKWqUu pic.twitter.com/F6BrrN2HK5— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 11, 2020
4. Ripping off Soleimani posters
Another video showed protesters defacing posters of Soleimani’s face.
WATCH: Iranian protesters rip up pictures of slain commander Qassem #Soleimani in Tabriz city, as public anger increased following days of denials by the Iranian military that it was to blame for downing the Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 aboard.https://t.co/JdwrHyPVGT pic.twitter.com/D1m7PFK6y7— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 13, 2020
5. “They killed our elites and replaced them with mullahs!”
In a critique of the regime, students chanted: “They killed our elites and replaced them with mullahs!”
6. Iranian-Canadian man mourns his family.
Relatives of those killed in the airplane shot down by Iran have been at the forefront of the protests. Here an Iranian-Canadian man who lost his wife accuses the Iranian government of being criminals.
“The Islamic Republic are all criminals,” says an Iranian-Canadian man whose wife was killed when Iran attacked a civilian airliner, killing all 176 people on board. https://t.co/M7jM1F27ml pic.twitter.com/BqG9VidEOV— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 14, 2020
7. Students hold a vigil against police brutality.
Security forces have responded with force. This video shows students, reportedly at the Iran University of Science and Techonology, accusing the regime of attacking them with batons.
Watch: Video circulating on social media shows Iranians, reportedly students at the Iran University of Science and Technology, criticizing the regime for attacking them.https://t.co/qxWU9zpz5Q pic.twitter.com/T1r8LWvX9T— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 14, 2020
8. Tear gas fired.
Riot police also fired tear gas at protesters in Tehran, seen here.
Security forces fire tear gas at Iranian protesters on a street in Tehran, injuring at least one person who falls to the ground after being hit by a canister, a video being shared online by activists shows.https://t.co/muQwHKEQ2W pic.twitter.com/VfY2NCUy3w— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 11, 2020
9. Protests from above.
Despite the violence, protesters continue to take to the streets. This video shows the scale of protests near the Amir Kabir University in Tehran.
Video shows the scale of ongoing protests near the Amir Kabir University in Tehran. Iranian protesters are demanding Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei step down after the IRGC admitted it had shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 people on board.https://t.co/muQwHKWqUu pic.twitter.com/BagK4oOw7Q— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 11, 2020
10. Iranians refusing to step on Israeli and American flags.
With the protests showing no sign of stopping, Iranians have also challenged previous taboos. Here protesters can be seen refusing to stand on the Israeli and American flags – a common practice encouraged by the government to show disrespect to its enemies. Those who did step on the flags were reportedly booed by the crowd.