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Harrisburg professor gives insight into Iran protests

Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh says protests are taking on a different tone compared to previous demonstrations.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Tensions remain high in Iran, as demonstrators enter their third week of protesting against the government. The protests were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who was killed after being arrested by Iran’s morality police.

Amini was arrested on September 13th for wearing tight pants, violating Iran's conservative dress code to, "promote virtue and prevent vice."

“When they put her in the van and take her into custody, God knows what took place in that van," said Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh.

Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh is an international affairs professor at Harrisburg University, who has written extensively about Middle East politics.

Iran is no stranger to public uprisings, as the country experienced economic protests back in 2012. However, Dr. Noorbaksh says these protests are taking on a different tone.

“This is the first time that, really strongly, the public chants (are), ‘death to the dictatorship, long live freedom,'" said Dr. Noorbaksh.

Protests are being seen in cities throughout the country, with college students and women being at the forefront of the demonstrations. Violent police crackdowns have already killed and injured dozens of people, leading the UN to raise concerns about the government’s response.

“So far, close to 100 people have been killed," said Dr. Noorbaksh. "But people are still going to the streets and chanting, ‘freedom.’”

As the world watches on, Dr. Noorbaksh commends the commitment of the protestors calling for change.

“As you know, the government is very violent, and the demonstrators are taking a nonviolent approach," said Dr. Noorbaksh. "And that’s shocking that, against all odds, they are being so brave.”

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