Alarmed by the high levels of apathy in Iran’s society, the country’s Ministry of Interior recently released findings based on a collection of indices that reflected widespread discontent and a concerning number of Iranians demanding change because of grave injustices in the country.
According to Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister and head of the country’s Social Affairs Organization Tagi Rostamvandi, the Iranian people increasingly desire to bring about fundamental change. Rostamvandi added that the Iranian people want a secular non-religious regime. Moreover, half of Iran’s population shuns religion and only 32 percent identify themselves as Shiite Muslims even though technically the vast majority of them are born Shiites.
The aforementioned figures suggest that religious indoctrination and the forceful implementation of Islamic laws, especially on women, have terribly backfired. The Ministry of Interior predicts that women will strike the first major blow against Iran’s Islamic political system because of the harsh injustices and discrimination that they face.
The released indices further show a growing desire by all Iranians to engage in frequent acts of protest and to break down social norms. Economic hardship was the primary cause of nationwide protests and an uptick in anti-government slogans over the past five years, leading to deaths and thousands being injured. Labor and guild protests are on the rise as well.
However, social scientists in Iran think that even protests are increasingly meaningless in Iran, given that more and more Iranians are seeking new ways to express their anti-government values, particularly in sport stadiums, schools, colleges and social gatherings (weddings, funerals). Simultaneously, the desire to emigrate is high. Iranians staying back are more inclined to protest and to demand a halt to what they deem brutal security crackdowns.
Meanwhile, suicide rates and drug abuse are increasing at alarming rates in Iran. Annually, nearly 100,000 Iranians attempt suicide, and 60,000 die from drug overdoses. Alcoholism has become a severe problem in Iran; 10 percent of Iranians drink alcohol. Drinking has become a habit as in the West among the middle classes. Those who drink in Iran tend to binge drink more than people in hard-drinking nations like Russia and Germany, according to The New York Times.
Nearly 45 percent of Iranians believe that neither the people nor the government follow the laws of the land, and 50 percent say the level of access to justice and equality is low in the country. Figures show that over the course of three years, the number of Iran’s poor has doubled, and as of last year, 20 million live below the poverty line, while a fourth of the population live in marginal or shelter-less conditions. According to figures released by the Ministry of Interior, some 11 million to 13 million Iranians live on the margins of society in illegal or substandard shelters.
Unfair income distribution, land grabbing by senior government administrators, and the marginalization of poor communities has even forced Iranians to seek shelter in empty graves in cemeteries across the country. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars of Iran’s wealth has gone missing as a result of corruption over the past few years, while government officials run housing construction networks that are worth 20 percent of the country’s GDP, almost equivalent to how much oil and gas revenues contribute to overall GDP.
An Iranian laborer can now only afford to buy 1 square meter of land for housing from his annual income. But new government administrators close to President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, including the current mayor of Tehran Alireza Zakani, have plans to force the marginalized poor in suburban areas out of their temporary and substandard shelters to grab more land and build more lucrative housing compounds to generate cash.
Iran’s Ministry of Economy blames US-led sanctions for public discontent and the country’s recent 45 percent inflation rate. Since Raisi took over the presidency in August 2021, the country’s monthly inflation rate showed a hike; the monthly inflation rate is now 45.8 percent for rural areas and 41.8 percent for urban areas.
All the aforementioned signs indicate that the Iranian people are impatient for change, and that Iranian society is fast nearing a crisis.