Five Things to Know About the Iranian Protests

Five Things to Know About the Iranian Protests, by Farnaz Fassihi.

Protesters in Iran are challenging the nearly four-decade clerical rule of the Islamic Republic. The protests — the largest and most widespread since an uprising against the outcome of the 2009 presidential elections — are calling for a regime change …

How did the protests start? Small, scattered protests focused on economic grievances had been percolating in multiple Iranian cities since September. … The demonstrations … eventually shifted to demands against political oppression by Iran as the middle class, student activists and dissidents joined the working class and labor unions on the streets.

By Friday and Saturday, the protests had spread all across the country, including cities such as Qom, the bedrock of Shiite clerical rule, and other regime strongholds known for their conservative and religious populations.

What do the protesters want? Bypassing the traditional demands for reform, the protesters are calling for the ouster of the regime and for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down. …

In Tehran, protesters faced a mural of Mr. Khamenei and shouted “Death to you.” Openly targeting Mr. Khamenei, who is considered God’s representative on Earth, is a crime that carries the death penalty. …

What are protesters chanting? … Here are some slogans being chanted at the protests, translated into English:

“We don’t want an Islamic Republic, we don’t want it, we don’t want it.”

“They are using Islam as an excuse to drive people crazy.”

“Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic.”

“Reformists, hard-liners, Game is over.”

“We are all Iranians, we don’t accept Arabs.”

“We are getting poor and clerics are driving fancy cars.”

“Reza Shah, Rest in Peace.”

“We will die but we will take Iran back.”

“Come out to the streets Iranians, shout for your rights.”

“Death to the Revolutionary Guards.”

How has the regime responded? Riot police and plainclothes militia have taken to the streets across Iran but the crackdowns have been far tamer than previous protests. …

Where will the protests go? … Uprisings in Iran tend to die out because of a lack of leadership, clear organization and goals.

Many Iranians are at the end of their tether and no longer fear the government.