As Iran’s clerics face ‘turban-throwing’ trend, army warns it is ready to quell protests

As Iran’s clerics face ‘turban-throwing’ trend, army warns it is ready to quell protests

As Iran’s armed forces warn, it is ready to intervene and overthrow a a wave of anti-government protestsA new trend has emerged in Iran, the aim of which is to directly embarrass and humiliate the ruling elite of the Islamic republic. In recent weeks, videos have surfaced online showing young protesters running past and publicly knocking turbans off the heads of unsuspecting Islamic clerics.

The trend of “throwing the turban” has spread with street protests that are still ongoing. The unrest, the most significant challenge ever to Iran’s hardline Islamic theocracy, erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16, when she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly flouting the country’s strict dress code. for women, requiring them to cover their hair in public.

Social media is flooded with videos of young Iranians running after clerics in the streets and smashing their turbans. The practice has become so common that many clerics are seen wearing covers over their turbans in an attempt to keep them firmly in place, but videos show even some anchored turbans flying off the hands of often masked protesters.

Holly Dagres, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and an analyst on Iran, shared one video that compiles more than a dozen videos set to the background music of a popular dissident Iranian rapper who is currently in prison.

While most turban knockdowns involve quick sneak attacks that simply force clerics to fight for their turbans, in some cases religious figures can be met with small mobs and even beaten or slapped.

A person using the pseudonym “Sir Antonio Su Padre” mockingly announced the creation of the “Iranian Turban Throwing Federation” in a tweet on Tuesday, a body that purportedly aims to regulate and evaluate turban throwing activities.

A Twitter account set up by the federation has posted dozens of videos of turbans flying from heads and awarded points to “competitors” based on their maneuvering, throwing technique and distances covered by the turban.

The account garnered over 50,000 followers in just a few hours before being suspended by Twitter.

The Iranian army is ready to “stop” the protests

Iranians have risked arrest for speaking out against the regime in many ways over the past two months viral protest songs graffiti etc subtle movements, but the street protests are the most diverse manifestation of the frustration of young Iranians. The widespread protests have entered their eighth week and show no signs of abating despite a brutal crackdown and growing threats from the authorities.

Large-scale anti-government protests in Iran could lead to further crackdowns


Rights groups say more than 300 protesters have been killed in a brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces, and the commander of Iran’s army ground forces warned on Thursday that the country’s supreme leader was the only cause of the “unrest”. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei still had to order them to be crushed.

“The conspirators, who today are like puppets in the hands of the enemy, should keep in mind that we will not allow the holy blood of the martyrs to be violated,” Iranian Mehr agency quoted Brigadier General Kiumars Heydari as saying. “We will stop them if they try to go out.”

He promised that if Khamenei “gives an order to deal with them, they will have no place in our country”.

Knocking down the wrong turban?

However, not all Iranians are in favor of the new protest action, and among the critics there are people who do not support the regime in any way.

Some argue that humiliating mullahs in public essentially imposes the same insecurities on religious figures that women have felt in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the current government came to power. Others note that not all Islamic clerics in Iran necessarily represent or support the regime.

A video posted on Twitter in early November 2022 shows a man knocking a turban off the head of an Islamic cleric, part of a trend of “turban shedding” by protesters to show their support for anti-government protests in Iran.


“This phenomenon, known as ‘turban throwing’, which has become the joy of some opponents, is mainly aimed at scientists who do not hold public positions. They can even be critics or victims of the current politics,” Iranian academician Ahmad Zaydabadi. A member of the Iranian reform movement wrote in his blog. “Mullahs who hold high positions in the regime usually do not walk in public, and if they do, they have the necessary protection.”

But while turbans in Iran are exclusively symbols of religious instruction rather than status or political power, they are widely seen as symbols of the current regime.

“The protestors do not consider this dress to be only a guild dress, but consider it a symbol of oppression, corruption and tyranny. They believe that during decades of oppression, the clergy were either rulers, or complicit in the government, or remained. keep quiet,” said Mohammad Javad Akbarin, an Iranian reformer and cleric living in Paris, in a message posted to his Telegram channel.

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