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MALCOLM: Now is the time to stand with the protesters in Iran

Canadians should stand with the brave protesters desperately fighting for freedom and liberty.

“People are dying in the streets, they’re killing young people every night.”

That’s what a friend in Tehran told my family over the phone this week. “It’s a revolution, just like in 1979,” said another friend, who was there during the Islamic revolution.

Watching the news from Iran this week left one feeling both terrified and hopeful.

The protests are larger and more energetic than ever. According to a human rights activist I spoke to, hundreds of thousands of people have joined the protests in 165 cities.

The Iranian regime is imposing harsh and more tyrannical penalties against those taking a stand. They shut down the country’s internet to stifle the movement, and when that failed, they sent the Revolutionary Guards out to wage war on the protesters.

According to another dissident I spoke to on Friday, the regime has killed 251 people, injured 3,500 and more than 7,000 protesters had been arrested and detained.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic declared the protests are over, and the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamanei stated on Twitter that they had “repelled the enemy.”

Counter to the regime’s propaganda, anger continues to mount in Iran and the people seem determined to overthrow their autocratic rulers.

The people of Iran have been struggling for a generation, and every year public protests erupt in cities across the country. The mainstream media usually call these “economic demonstrations,” with some reports going as far as blaming “U.S. sanctions”. But the grievances of the Iranian people run much deeper than its socialist economy.

Iran is a theocratic dictatorship, with a horrendous human rights record. According to Amnesty International, Iran is a world leader in executions — imposing the death penalty on teenagers and minors, political dissidents, religious minorities and homosexuals.

“Trials were systematically unfair. Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread and committed with impunity. Floggings, amputations and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments were carried out,” read Amnesty’s 2018 Iran report.

The corrupt mullahs who run the country prefer to send the government’s limited cash to fuel war and terrorism in Syria, Israel and throughout the Middle East rather than take care of the basic needs of their citizens.

Hence why the protesters are chanting: “death to the Mullahs” and “death to [President] Rouhani” rather than “death to America” and “death to Israel” — the chants long led by the Islamist rulers.

Now is the time to stand by the protesters in Iran in their courageous fight against the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East.

Instead of standing up for freedom and democracy in Iran though, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to even acknowledge the protests. The world’s biggest virtue-signaller hasn’t even bothered to send out a tweet.

When mass protests broke out across Iran in the final days of 2017, some in the Trudeau government seemed to shamefully side with the Islamic Republic. Liberal MP Majid Jowhari urged protesters to respect the “elected government” of Iran, while pushing a government petition to allow Iranian officials back into Canada.

Calling the Islamic Republic an “elected government” is a slap in the face to those risking their lives in Iran, and to the hundreds of thousands of freedom-loving dissidents who have fled Iran — many of whom now live in Canada.

Canadians should stand with the brave protesters desperately fighting for freedom and liberty, and the Trudeau government should put an end to its efforts to build a friendship with a wicked regime that is now murdering citizens in the streets.

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