In Iran, my generation, the first after Islamism came to power, is called the Burnt Generation (Persian: Nasl-e Sukhteh). Our generation earned this name for having to endure the brutality of the Islamist and theocratic regime from the time we were born, to adulthood. This brutality included the regime’s merciless efforts, such as mass executions, to establish its power, impose its barbaric and restrictive rules, and brainwash children and indoctrinate the younger generation with its extremist ideology through various methods including elementary schools, universities, state-controlled media outlets, imams and local mosques, and promoting chants such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
Women and men were segregated. Teenagers were prevented from performing daily activities considered harmless by most of the world. Any kind of enjoyable social activities were barred, including listening to music, dancing, drinking, dating, women participating in a chess championship unless you were wearing a hijab or attending a football match or other sporting event if men were playing in it. If it made you smile, if it gave you hope, it was probably against the law, such as what could be worn, whom you were allowed to talk to, what you could listen to, and whether or not you pray or fast during Ramadan. Even the most personal and private issues became the business of the regime’s forces.
The main purpose of these restrictions and the intense control of the people, especially youths, was for the regime to expand its Islamist agenda domestically and abroad. These laws were enforced with cruel and violent punishments such as public flogging along with the threat of even more dire consequences, including stoning, public hanging and amputations. My generation was raised in an atmosphere of terror. While the rest of the world became more modern and developed, we were left to grapple with following Islamist laws and restrictions that were impossible to obey.
My generation in Iran should be seen as a lesson for the West. Almost every state (and non-state actors) underestimated the power that these Islamists could wield. Warning signs were overlooked. No one believed that such a massive change could occur and be enforced. Many underestimated the crimes that these Islamists were willing to commit to maintain their power once they came into control. To this day, they continue to prove that there are no limits to the cruelty and lack of humanity that they will engage in, such as conducting mass executions, executing children and pregnant women, stoning, amputations, public hanging, flogging, torture, and rape just to maintain this power.