It’s a simple photo of a man and a woman kissing on a busy street Tuesday evening in Shiraz, Iran. Although the identity of the photographer is not known, the snap has gone viral on social media around the world because it shows the enduring desire for freedom in a country ruled by autocratic zealots.
Kissing in public is prohibited in Iran, you see, and she’s not wearing a hijab. But that didn’t stop these brave two romantics:
— azadeh davachi (@azadeh_davachi) November 16, 2022
Iranians have been taking to the streets for months now to decry the September death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin who perished in an Iranian prison three days after being hauled in for not wearing her headscarf properly. There were reportedly signs that she’d been beaten. My colleague Nick Arama described the protests in October and the incredible bravery of those putting themselves out there, knowing they would face repercussions.
Those protests continue:
— Reza Moradi (@RezaMoradi) November 16, 2022
Iran’s ruling mullahs have reacted with predictable savagery, rounding up thousands of protesters and sentencing some to death after quick show trials. The BBC reports that at least five death sentences have already been handed down, and the “guilty” have little recourse:
“Protesters don’t have access to lawyers in the interrogation phase, they are subjected to physical and mental torture to give false confessions, and sentenced based on the confessions,” the director of Norway-based Iran Human Rights, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, told AFP news agency.
At least 21 others have been hit with charges that will result in the death penalty if convictions are achieved. The charges include things like “enmity against God” and “corruption on Earth.” Iran operates under Sharia law, which is Islam’s legal system and is derived from the Quran.
In an odd twist, many outlets including ours covered a story concerning a Newsweek claim that 15,000 people had already been sentenced to death. The claim went viral after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other celebrities tweeted about it, but on Wednesday it turns out that’s the number who have been arrested, not given the death penalty.
At least 348 people have been killed in the protests, and a staggering 15,900 arrested. The regime not surprisingly blames “America and the Zionist regime” for the uprisings.
Here’s a video from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that shows some of the demonstrations and the brutal response from Iranian authorities. Warning: some of the images are graphic.
Iran’s atrocities—those of its leaders’, anyway—remind us why we are enemies with the regime, and why they can never be trusted. Their savagery and backward approach to human rights runs counter to everything that America stands for. Joe Cunningham opines it’s also a reminder of why we have the 2nd Amendment.
There have been other photos that have somehow magically summed up what was going on in the world at the time, like the VJ Day Times Square kiss, the Tiananmen Square tank man, or the Vietnam War’s Napalm Girl. I don’t know if this photo is on that level, or will stand the test of time to become that iconic. But for now, at least, it beautifully captures the endless quest for freedom (and romance), and highlights just how lucky we have it here in America.