September 12, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s Uprising Nears First Anniversary as Protests Persist 

September 12, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s Uprising Nears First Anniversary as Protests Persist 

Latest Developments 

September 16 marks the first anniversary of the Iranian morality police’s murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Her death sparked not only a nationwide uprising that continues to this day but also a corresponding regime crackdown that has killed more than 600 Iranians and entailed more than 22,000 arrests. According to FDD tracking data, protests in recent weeks have increased dramatically: In August 2023, 352 protests occurred, compared to 277 in July and 183 in June. In the first 11 days of September 2023, at least 100 protests took place, compared to 310 for the whole of September in 2022. In total, at least 4,429 protests have occurred over the past year. 

Expert Analysis 

“One year later, the Iranian people are continuing to show the world they remain undeterred by the regime’s apparatus of repression from protesting not only for their basic human rights but against the Islamic Republic in its entirety. One year since, what remains to be seen is how the Biden administration will stand with the Iranian people in practice and not just in principle.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow 

“Over the past three months, we have witnessed a consistent rise in protest-related events and activities within Iran. Both the Iranian populace and the Islamist regime are gearing up for a display of strength on the commemoration day of Mahsa Amini, commonly known as ‘Mahsa Day.’ Given the significant pressure exerted by the regime in recent weeks to suppress preparations for Mahsa Day, it remains challenging to anticipate the scale of protest activities on that particular day. However, one thing is certain: The Iranian people’s determination to break free from the shackles of Islamist ideology is unwavering and will persist.” — Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor 

Clampdown on Dissent 

In expectation of even more numerous protests as the anniversary of Amini’s death approaches, the Islamist regime has intensified its clampdown on dissent. “Activists have accused authorities of a campaign to intimidate and instil[l] fear, arresting, summoning for questioning, threatening or firing people connected to the protests,” Reuters reported on September 11. “Journalists, lawyers, activists, students, academics, artists, public figures and family members of killed protesters, especially among ethnic minorities, have been targeted in recent weeks.” The regime has also imposed snap checkpoints, internet disruptions, and university purges in an effort to deter unrest, the Associated Press reported on September 12. 

Women Face Increasing Repression 

In a June 2023 video that went viral in Iran, Mazandaran Province police chief Hassan Mofakhami told a subordinate to “break the neck of anyone who may seek to break the [hijab] norms, and I’ll take responsibility for it.” During protests, Iranian security forces have deliberately shot women in the eyes, breasts, and genitals, according to Iranian doctors. In July 2023, Iran’s morality police intensified street patrols. 

Rape and sexual violence against women in Iran’s prisons persist. A report released on September 12 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said that while such assaults are “not new, the gravity of such conduct took on new significance following protests where women are asserting their bodily autonomy from the state.” 

Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz 

Iran Intensifies Crackdown on Dissent,” FDD Flash Brief 

Why Iran’s regime fears women’s hair,” by Tzvi Kahn 

Protests Across Iran Persist, Now Nine Months On,” FDD Flash Brief 


Iran Iran Human Rights Iran Politics and Economy