Fears of 'major massacre coming' in Iran as protests approach 'Tiananmen moment'
Protests in Iran / AFP

Fears are growing of a violent crackdown in Iran as the government cracks down on the hijab protests occurring across the country.

"The largest anti-government protests in Iran since 2009 gathered strength on Saturday, spreading to as many as 80 cities, even as the authorities escalated a crackdown that has reportedly killed dozens of people and brought the arrests of prominent activists and journalists, according to rights groups and news media reports," The New York Times reported. "In many cities, including Tehran, the capital, security forces responded by opening fire on the crowds."

State media is reporting 35 fatalities.

"Deep resentments and anger have been building for months, analysts say, particularly among young Iranians, in response to a crackdown ordered by the country’s hard-line president, Ebrahim Raisi, that has targeted women," the newspaper reported. "That comes on top of a litany of complaints through the years over corruption, mismanagement of the economy, inept handling of Covid and widespread political repression. The problems have persisted under Mr. Raisi, who came to power in an election in which any potential contenders were eliminated before the vote, particularly those from the reformist faction."

For analysis, MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian interview Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, who described it as a "historical moment."

"We have not seen anything like it," Ghaemi explained. "It does come at the heels of five years of different kinds of protests, this one is absolutely different in the sense that, it is extremely widespread. It is led by women, there are a lot of young women on the street, there were two major taboos have already been broken -- it was the removal, disposal, and burning of the hijab and ordinary people not observing it at all, and the second one is the courage of protesters not to run, necessarily, but fight back."

"There is a lot of occasions where people are fighting back and the regime is really confused where to concentrate its forces for oppression. as you mentioned, it is geographically extremely diverse, and let's remember, today is the seventh day and there is no sign of it going away.

"I think the next few days are going to be extremely critical and worrisome in terms of a massacre coming, what I am calling the Tiananmen moment for Iran," he warned.

"There is definitely a worry of a major, major massacre coming, just like Raisi has hinted at," Ghaemi said.

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Hadi Ghaemi www.youtube.com