Culture Clash In Iran Over Happy Dancing Video – Meet Iran’s Gen Z: the forces driving the movement. They are shaking up the old clerical establishment to a degree not seen since the 1979 revolution.
Holly Dugrace, an Iranian-American who spent her formative years in Iran. He is a non-executive senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Program and author of the Iranians in #SocialMedia report.
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Iranians protested the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by moral police in Tehran on October 1. Middle East Images/AP
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“Islamic Republic” written in Persian in chalk on a blackboard. Below is a glass of schoolgirls in dark blue school uniforms, but without the obligatory hijab. Together, they raised their middle fingers to the dirt board.
This is just one of hundreds of photos recently shared on social media by Iran’s Generation Z students (aka Gen Xers or Zoomers), and they are a force to be reckoned with. They are also the driving force behind the current protests that have swept the country following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s so-called morality police.
Born between 1997 and 2012, this generation is social media savvy despite internet shutdowns and heavy internet censorship. Frustrated and angry about the situation, they are not afraid to express their opinions online or in person or to press the red lines of the Islamic Republic. And they are shaking up the antiquated, sclerotic top to a degree not seen since the country’s 1979 revolution.
Women carry a child in the street during the Iranian Revolution on May 1, 1979. Christine Spengler/Sigma Getty Images
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Terms such as “millennials” (those born between 1981 and 1996) and “Gen Zers” are not commonly used in Iran. Instead, Iranians talk about the youth, who today make up more than 60 percent of Iran’s roughly 87 million population over decades.
Or 60 (which refers to the year 1360 in the Iranian calendar), and the children of the 2000s – known as Iran’s Generation Z -.
Or the 80s (1380s according to the Iranian calendar). Known as Generation Alpha, the generation born after Generation Z
Western scholars have used the phrase “sons of the revolution” to describe the youth who came of age after the 1979 revolution and the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Many of these young Iranians were part of the student movement that helped Iran’s reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami to a surprise victory in the 1997 presidential election.
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Educator Assef Bayat describes this generation as a post-Islamic youth, suggesting that they were not the ideal Islamic youth envisioned by former revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Instead, they horrified the clerical establishment and their “degenerate behavior” — drug use, drag racing and partying — not unlike many Western youth.
A group of young Iranians gather in a neighborhood of Tehran covered in Western graffiti on February 9, 1997. Jamsheed Bairami/AFP via Getty Images
In the late 1990s, their antics shook the clerical establishment. According to Bayat, these young people were pragmatic, not ideological, with a clear aversion to violence, mistrust of the authorities and dreams of living in the West.
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(meaning “movie man”) who would show up at home with a suitcase like the latest bootleg blockbuster.
In the early 2000s, many Iranians were also exposed to the Internet and its various uses, including blogs and social media. However, it was not until the 2009 presidential election, when the Green Movement known as the Electoral Green Movement was provoked by election fraud, that the Islamic Republic began to view the Internet as a serious threat to national security.
Although the Green Movement’s protests spread mostly through word of mouth and text messages, shocking photos and videos uploaded to social media of demonstrators dressed in green being beaten by security forces in support of then-reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi became viral all over the world. . The video, which documented the shooting of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman killed by security forces, became a symbol of government disgust.
Since 2009, the Iranian government has treated the Internet with an iron fist, blocking 35 percent of the world’s most visited websites. However, 78.5 percent of Iranians over the age of 18 manage to use heavily censored social media and messaging apps. Cheating tools allow you to access blocked international social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Instagram has yet to be fully censored (although it is currently blocked due to protests). It’s no surprise that the photo-sharing app is where Iranians, especially the youth, express themselves the most.
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Hundreds of women demonstrate in front of the president’s office against an order to force all Iranian women working in government agencies to wear the veil at work on July 5, 1980 in Tehran. EPU/AFP ARCHIVE Geti Images
Women cheer before the World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Cambodia at Azadi Stadium in Tehran on October 10, 2019. The Islamic Republic has banned female spectators from football and other stadiums for decades. ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images
Many videos and memes in the social media sphere in Persian compare the youth of the 1980s with the youth of today. Many of the posts highlight the dress code of Iranian girls, especially that the girls dress very conservatively, essentially all black, whereas 30 years ago they were expected to be docile and modest. These looks contrast with the more revealing and colorful clothes worn by Iranian girls today, boldly showing off their curves and hair. Not surprisingly, these young women tend to be more vocal against the authorities.
Journalist Seh Isfahani explains some points of this incident. “Gen Z was born to parents who had to fight previous generations for their simplicity of freedom: they are more likely to wear makeup or dress less,” Esfahani said. “This experience has made millennial Iranian parents more tolerant of their children.”
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Generation Z Iran did not experience the constant threat of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles or the food shortages of much of the 1980s, which coincided with Iran’s dark years of mass executions and arrests of dissidents and political rivals. Jumars had just been born when Khatami became president and is too young to remember the dramatic changes in clothing and public spaces during the short-lived reform movement, which waned after a student uprising in 1999 when the reformist newspaper was shut down.
Also, Gen Z is too young to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; invasion of neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq; And a dinner conversation about whether the country, a member of the so-called axis of evil, will be the next target of the George W. Bush administration.
As the Jumaras grow older, they face brutal oppression, systematic mismanagement, and corruption. They were barely in double digits when the Green Movement took off in 2009, and in November 2019, when anti-government protests sparked by a gas strike saw security forces arrest and kill thousands of people, including at least 23 children. In 2020, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people on board — including many of the country’s most talented people who “went to Canada to do great work.”
This generation also experienced a global epidemic, and despite the highest number of deaths and cases in the Middle East, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei initially rejected Western vaccines. At the time, they mostly sided with the clerical establishment to form a complex leadership government to take power first in the 2020 parliamentary elections and then in the 2021 presidential elections.
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This new generation of young Iranians has also grown up under nearly two decades of impunity, severe economic sanctions and international isolation fueled by a nuclear program, the merits of which Iranians increasingly question and publicly oppose. For most young people, life in Iran is difficult unless they have connections or wealth.
Two girls use online chat to meet friends at a cafe in Iran in xxx
Two girls use an online chat to meet friends at a cafe in Tehran on October 16, 2003, the first day of Internet use in Iran. Kaveh Kazemi / Getty Images
However, thanks to the Internet, this generation of young people are “digital natives” and part of the globalized Generation Z, as they share similar interests and preferences. Like their Western counterparts, this generation was born with information and communication technology at their fingertips, albeit limited by the use of eavesdropping tools such as virtual private networks. Zoomers can illegally stream the latest season of The Mandalorian or download the latest podcast or Rap-e Farsi (“Psian Rap”) song to listen to on their smuggled Apple AirPods, speaking word for word while walking through the trees. street or train. .
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