02/01/2018, 18.17
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Rouhani: 'listen to the voice of the people' or suffer the same fate of the shah

The president delivers a televised speech to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. After last month's demonstrations, calm is back in Iranian streets, but dissent continues. Several young women and one man protest against compulsory head covering.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thirty-nine years after the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Iranian regime runs the risk of sharing the same fate if its authorities ignore popular discontent, this according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Iranian leader delivered his televised speech yesterday at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic, ten days before the 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, on 11 February.

"All officials of the country should have a listening ear for people's demands and wishes," Rouhani said. "The previous regime thought monarchical rule would last forever, but it lost everything for this very reason -- that it did not hear the criticism of the people”.

The shah's regime "did not hear the voice of reformers, advisors, scholars, elites, and the educated," Rouhani added, in what appears to be a reference to protests that rocked the country a month ago.

Some 25 people were killed during unauthorised demonstrations against the government, the economic crisis and corruption, the authorities have reported.

Now things are back to normal, but dissent remains. Some women continue to protest against the obligation to cover their heads, by waving their headscarves and showing their hair.

On Monday, at 11 am, a young woman stood on a cement block with a green bracelet on her wrist to symbolise the ‘Green Wave‘ protest of 2009.

She took off her headscarf, tied it around a stick, and waved it. Other young women did the same as did a young man (picture 2). The image of a young woman wearing a chador waving a veil (picture 3) caused a sensation on the web.

In speaking out, Rouhani comes down clearly on the side of reformists, demanding more civil liberties, including the release of political prisoners. A few days ago, restrictions on reformist leader Hussein Mousavi were eased.

The words of the Iranian president echo those of Mehdi Karroubi, another dissident who has been under house arrest for seven years. A few days ago, he criticised Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an open letter in which he warns that important reforms are needed "before it's too late".

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