Study: Majority of Iranians want regime change as protests continue to grow in the country

As protests against the Islamist regime continue in Iran, a new study by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change found that 84% of Iranians are in favor of regime change. The study also found that Iranian society has become secular, encompassing both men and women, all age groups and rural and urban areas.

The findings were published on Tuesday by Kasra Aarabi and Jemima Shelley, comparing polls from June 2020 and February 2022. It revealed overwhelming support for the anti-mandatory hijab policy with 70% of men and 74% of women opposing it. goods. More than three-quarters of those surveyed consider religion unimportant in their lives, preferring a more secular life than the current theocratic life.

The study comes at a time of intense pressure on the regime following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died two months ago after she was reportedly attacked in September by the regime’s morality police for not wearing her hijab properly.

Students from Sharif University of Technology attend a protest on October 7, 2022 sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the country’s morality police in Tehran, Iran.
(AP photo)

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The demonstrations have spread to 140 cities and towns and represent the biggest challenge facing the Islamic Republic in more than a decade. According to Iran Human Rights, at least 326 protesters, including 43 children and 25 women, have been killed in a violent crackdown by security forces. Some groups claim that more than 500 protesters were killed.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency, based abroad, has said 15,800 protesters have been detained. It also reported the deaths of 39 security personnel.

A huge mural of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, painted next to a smaller one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, right, seen on Motahari Street on March 8, 2020 in Tehran, Iran.  The message on the wall reads

A huge mural of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, painted next to a smaller one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, right, seen on Motahari Street on March 8, 2020 in Tehran, Iran. The message on the wall reads, “America’s power and influence and dignity in the world is for the fall and extermination” and on top of the building is another slogan, “We stand to the end.”
(Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)

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The Tony Blair Institute research was conducted in collaboration with the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran. Given the Iranian government’s censorship and surveillance of its citizens, the group used encrypted online surveys, digital tools and other alternative methods to securely record the honest opinions of Iranians. The organizers said doing it that way allowed participants to truthfully answer questions about sensitive topics without fear for their safety.

Kasra Aarabi, Iran Program Lead in TBI’s Extremism Policy Unit and co-author of the paper, pointed out that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program has dominated Western policy and media agenda on Iran for the past decade. “However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Iran’s dissensions are driven by living under a totalitarian misogynistic ideological regime that has consistently prioritized the interests of its hardline Islamic ideology over those of the Iranian people.”

A police motorcycle burns during a protest in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 19, 2022, over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic Republic's vice squad.

A police motorcycle burns during a protest in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 19, 2022, over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic Republic’s vice squad.
(West Asia Press Agency via REUTERS)

“The poll published today in our newspaper makes it clear that these protests are not about reform, but about outright regime change,” he added.

Jemima Shelley, a researcher at TBI’s Extremism Policy Unit and co-author of the new paper, articulated that compulsory hijab is not just a women’s rights issue; it represents one of the critical pillars of the regime’s authoritarian rule over all Iranians.”

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Veiled Iranian women attend a ceremony in support of Islamic dress code compliance for women, in Tehran, Iran, July 11, 2019. A few daring women in Iran's capital have publicly taken off their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs.  risking arrest and arousing the wrath of hardliners.  Many others gave up on outright defiance and opted for loosely draped scarves that reveal as much hair as they cover.  More women are resisting the dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and activists say rebellion against the hijab is the most visible form of anti-government protest in Iran today.

Veiled Iranian women attend a ceremony in support of Islamic dress code compliance for women, in Tehran, Iran, July 11, 2019. A few daring women in Iran’s capital have publicly taken off their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs. risking arrest and arousing the wrath of hardliners. Many others gave up on outright defiance and opted for loosely draped scarves that reveal as much hair as they cover. More women are resisting the dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and activists say rebellion against the hijab is the most visible form of anti-government protest in Iran today.
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

In his institute’s report, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the Iranian protesters for their “extraordinary bravery and bravery 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 in the West that we recalibrate our policies in a way that clearly differentiates between the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic. Our efforts must 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 meet people’s demands for equality, dignity and rights instead of “using unnecessary or disproportionate force to quell the protests”.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Thursday, November 24 to address “the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

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