The Islamic Republic's tactic to deal with any major unrest has been firing at protesters, arresting activists, then staging a rally to show it has legitimacy.
The government did the same during the protest that followed the death in custody of a young woman which enraged large groups of Iranians including, most noticeably, women and youths. The regime used force and then tried to put up a show of force, which was the rally on Friday along a half-a-mile route turned out to be a fiasco.
Even the news program on Channel 3 of the state television on Friday was not convinced that the lacklustre rally was a definitive answer to more than a week of protests in Tehran and over 80 other cities. As Abolfazl Najafi Tehrani, an Iranian cleric wrote on Twitter on Saturday, the government is likely to lure and bus demonstrators from small towns around Tehran for yet another "definitive" show of support on Sunday.
In another odd event, the Channel 3 evening news, showed nearly all the user-generated videos of protests that had been aired by foreign-based satellite televisions beaming into Iran, but at the end of every clip it pointed out that protesters insulted the regime’s values, which was true, as demonstrators have made it clear that they do not want the Islamic Republic and clerical rule.
During the past 43 years, the Islamic Republic has done everything possible to impose its "values" on Iranians. However, the presence of tens of thousands of Iranians born after 2000 in the protests revealed that state propaganda has not been successful. Protesters showed to politicians that the teachings of the Islamic Republic are different from those of Islam. They grew up to know the Islamic Republic through major financial corruption cases, inefficient economic and foreign policy, and coercive domestic politics.
A large gathering in front of the notorious Evin prison on Saturday, the beginning of the week in Iran, of individuals looking for their "disappeared" family members, revealed the extent of the government's violence against protesters during the past week. There are long lists of those who have disappeared in recent days on various social media platforms.
Nonetheless, the protests continue with an ever-increasing momentum in the streets of Iran. The government specially cannot believe the large scope and severity of the protests in the religious cities of Qom and Mashad, where protesters fiercely "disciplined" the security forces. Cities such as Rasht, Qazvin, and Tehran have been the scenes of massive anti-government rallies particularly on Friday night.
The continued confrontation after the Islamic Republic's staged-managed rally of its supporters, show the government and protesters, are still testing each other's determination. According to reports, government forces killed at least 35 protesters until Friday. But the actual casualty toll is obviously much higher, as it has always been. In 2019, it took several weeks after the end of the protests for the media to realize that at least 1,500 protesters were shot dead. However, this round of protests still continue with slogans getting increasingly serious. What they chant in the streets is no longer about hijab or the heavy-handed morality police. Based on what they do and say, they want nothing less than a regime change. Whether this is feasible or not, will, among other things, depend on the government and the protesters' determination and their ability and logistics to continue the confrontation.