The Dance of the Forces of Life against the Guardians of Death
7 October 2022
Children in Iranian schools protesting; Image credit: The Guardian.
Saleh Najafi argues that September 2022 protests in Iran is the time for the rising of the youth who want to reclaim everything that the ruling anti-life system has denied them and all previous generations. In his opinion what is new about this political process is the resurgence of the idea of youth.
From the day after the full establishment of the Islamic Republic system and after the elimination of all revolutionary forces opposed to the application of the word "Islamic" to the government, which established its power bases through a referendum on a system whose constitution that has not been written and then by restraining the opposition thanks to the eight-year war, three things gradually left the world of Iranian citizens: beauty, freedom, life.
Women were among the first groups who, after the revolution in Iran, despite their active participation in the struggles and their undeniable role in the victory of the revolution, were bereft of free presence in the public space and their individual human rights. They were also the first section of the society that was the target of subjugation. In the atmosphere of the Islamic Republic, "woman" is the code name of these three removed elements. We live and breathe under the domination of a structure that is the enemy of beauty and freedom and life, and there is no such thing as a public space open to all people. Here "People” is the name of those who have no right to any "life" outside the rules and regulations of theocratic government, to any place where they can dance, sing and love.
September 2022 is the time for the rising of the youth who want to reclaim everything that the ruling anti-life system has denied them and all previous generations. The street belongs to them. Today and tomorrow belong to them. Each dumpster is a burning drum by which they sing their song of liberation at night. Every alley and every street has become the scene of this battle for freedom and life in opposition to the guardians of slavery and death. This battle shall only end when the young boys and girls regain the public sphere. They want to be able to "sin" and "make mistakes" and turn the hell which has been imposed on them in the name of “official” paradise into the playground for the forces of life.
The path that is paved thanks to the struggle of these young people is the path of life, path that all the oppressed and marginalized of this system can walk on, all those who want to think differently. Freedom is the right of those who think, the right of those who have the passion to live, who appreciate beauty, those who believe in equality of all sentient beings, and those whose passion for merrymaking no weapon can suppress...
Freedom is the absolute right of young girls and boys who seek a beautiful life according to their dreams, freedom is the right of those who know that only anyone who bows to a custodian or proctor, instead of stepping on the unexplored roads, actually prefers to be and remain a minor. Freedom belongs to those who realize that the true heirs and owners of the revolution are the "Girls of Enghelab Street"; they know that, at any moment and at any hour, the symbol of oppression can be hung on a stick like a flag of liberation and set on fire in front of the eyes of nonbelievers. Liberation belongs to those who know that freedom, beauty and life cannot be separated. The sons and daughters of the revolution will extend the nights of September 2022 to the dawn of liberation, but only if we believe them, if we stand behind them with all our heart and everything we have, if we stay by their side with all our faith and hope.
What is happening these nights all over Iran is a rehearsal for a play that is never going to be staged, because whenever the permission to perform arrives, the "scene" will have been changed and the play will end before its first performance. The sons and daughters of the revolution have turned every alley, every street, every square, and every fragment of public space into stage for the play of life. The audience is divided into two groups: those who eagerly embrace life and those who despise it.
Each and every moment is an opportunity for the sons and daughters of the revolution to practice life, and every object in the street can be used as a prop in a play that will never get permission to be staged. At every rehearsal, these amateurish performers of the theater of politics will certainly make mistakes that must be corrected in the next session, and each session will surprise both groups of spectators with its innovations.
What is new about this political process is the resurgence of the idea of youth. In the current situation, young actors and actresses have no regrets for the past and no hope for the future. Every one of their gestures contains an eternity of the passion for equality and justice that does not tolerate the slightest sign of oppression. Everyone is welcome in their nightly rehearsals, since there is no word for them in the nomenclature other than "young". And each of their speech acts harbors an address to the remnants of youth in every spectator. Each step they take is filled with excitement and fear of getting face-to-face with misogynist brutal men who are alien to life, beauty and freedom. The boundaries of the existing situation are constantly being shifted by the steps they take and the words they utter, and when they leave, the red trail of their rebellion remains. Those who rehearse never lose since they believe in a life that is nothing but the repetition of vital gestures that celebrate life.
There is no end to this struggle: as long as "compulsion" is at work, the demand for "liberation" remains, and once this appeal is heard, it will not be silenced: Any time and any place is an opportunity to put that demand on the stage. Liberation is a never-ending rehearsal for a play which can never be actually performed, and "youth" is an eternal passion that blossoms at certain moments as uncanny gestures: a hand tying hairs behind which a moment later goes up in a fist of victory. In this struggle, one side is constantly practicing life while the other sacrifices everything at altar of death. The silence that reigns from time to time is pregnant with many futures, and those addicted to oppression and falsehood know this better than anyone.