Iran’s Middle Class ‘Porsche Protest’ Picks Up Speed

A protest against Iran’s political elites (synonymous, of course, with its religious ones) erupted this week over a seemingly apolitical incident – the deaths of two Iranian youths, a man and a woman, in a fatal car crash in Tehran.

The accident was tragic enough in itself, but it was the details – the identities of the two, and the circumstances of their calamitous 5 a.m. ride – that ignited a social media furor among the Iranian middle class.

The young man and woman were Mohammad Hossein Rabbani-Shirazi, aged 21, the well-off grandson of a prominent cleric, and 20-year-old Parivash Akbarzadeh, a young woman from a middle-class neighborhood of Tehran. Akbarzadeh was driving the car, a Porsche (a fast, fancy car of the type often used in Iran to articulate the class struggle) at the time of the accident; Rabbani-Shirazi, who was engaged to marry another woman, was in the passenger seat. The young woman reportedly lost control of the car and slammed into the curb. She was killed on impact; her companion later died of his wounds, causing a storm of censure to be unleashed on Akbarzadeh, who was blasted as an “upstart” by some critics.

Of the major English-language news agencies, we could only find coverage of the incident on AFP, which focused its report on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s condemnation of “young people from the generation of wealth … making the streets insecure.” What was it exactly that the leader condemned? Certainly not the (interconnected, again) religious and political climate that spawned the inequality that has enabled said youths to become an untouchable elite, to the detriment of their middle- and working-class compatriots (particularly in a time of deepening economic strife) – nor the hypocrisy inherent in their open disregard for (and exemption from) Islamic restrictions.

Over at The New York Times, Thomas Erdbrink devoted an extensive report to the incident and the subsequent backlash, describing both in poignant detail and exploring an aspect of Iranian society that is rarely discussed – not simply the oppression and repression of women, but the skewed (and deadly) power balance between Iranian playboys from powerful families and the young middle class women who mingle with them, hoping for a chance for what would otherwise be financially impossible for them – marriage.

Blogging & updating on #Iran related news- focusing on Politics, Human Rights & the Iranian nuclear Program. Followed by top Middle East Analysts, Reportes & think tanks.

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Posted in Iranian Internal Issues, Iranian Politics, Khamenei, Media Coverage
2 comments on “Iran’s Middle Class ‘Porsche Protest’ Picks Up Speed
  1. […] week, we brought you the tragic story of young, beautiful Parivash Akbarzadeh, who recently died in a car accident while driving the […]

  2. […] Recently, more and more coverage of Iran in the Western press has been devoted to human rights issues. This rise has coincided with a “surge” in extrajudicial executions in Iran, many of them unreported, according to a recent statement by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Other worrying developments have also drawn the attention of the Western press: the raging social, economic and gender inequality in Iran, its mistreatment of minorities, and the unabashed hypocrisy of its clerical regime. […]

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