The message of the Iranian protests: ‘The ayatollah must go’

Khosrow Semnani 01

Note: Khosrow B. Semnani is an Iranian-American industrialist and a Utah community leader and philanthropist. He recently published an opinion column in the Washington Times regarding events in Iran and Utah-Iranian relations. Below is an excerpt. Read the full column here.

In his 2017 historic speech before leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations gathered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump reset U.S.-Iranian relations by declaring his solidarity with the Iranian people. The president concluded his address with a prayer for “the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

With thousands of Iranians pouring into the streets on Nov. 15 to protest a three-fold hike in gasoline prices, the president’s remarks about the Iranian people have assumed an urgency that we ignore at our peril. Having plundered Iran’s oil wealth and bankrupted its economy to advance a vision of Islam as a militant ideology, the country’s leadership has upped its violence against the Iranian people. The scale and scope of the regime’s crackdown was concealed by an unprecedented nationwide Internet blackout. 

Fortunately, the blackout failed. 

On the fourth day of the protests, Nov. 19, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Rupert Colville, warned that protests on the scale in Iran are an indication of “deep rooted and well-founded grievances that cannot be brushed aside” and called on Iranian authorities to respect its citizens’ freedom of expression. 

Amnesty International confirmed that at least 304 people had been killed. Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, claimed that “the regime could have murdered over 1,000 Iranians since the protests began.” The video footage speaks volumes about the regime’s criminal intentions and actions — with hundreds of unarmed protestors being shot at from rooftops and helicopters and others even being shot at point-blank.

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The time for a nuclear deal has come and gone. To seek another agreement with the ayatollah is to repeat Mr. Kerry’s failed diplomacy. It is to sanctify a strategic miscalculation that will enable Ayatollah Khamenei’s bankrupt kleptocracy to wage a war against the Iranian people and to destabilize the region for decades to come.  

What Iranians want now is justice: An end to the death of their children, an end to the usurpation of their religion, an end to the plunder of their wealth and an end to the destruction of their country.