Political Martyrdom Revisited: Iran’s Contemporary Perspective and Insights from the Woman-Life-Freedom Uprising


  • Oksana Didyk H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Ukraine.




political martyrdom, shahadat, Iran, Islamic Revolution, Mahsa Amini protests


Martyrdom holds significant cultural and historical importance in Iranian culture. It has deep roots in Shia Islam, the predominant religion in Iran, and frequently appears in Iranians’ collective memory. The concept of martyrdom gained significant prominence during the Iran-Iraq War (1980 - 1988) when many Iranians, including soldiers and civilians, lost their lives while defending their country. The war led to a surge in a culture surrounding martyrdom, with commemorations, ceremonies and rituals that continue today. Years after the war, new conceptions of martyrdom appeared, and the traditional ones transformed. The latest uprisings in Iran in 2022, with the slogan ‘woman-life-freedom’, have spurred a lively discussion as to how to consider martyrdom nowadays. This article examines the concept of martyrdom, offering fresh interpretations influenced by generational shifts and the rise of social activism in the 2020s, which diverge from traditional revolutionary ideologies. Drawing from survey data and qualitative interviews, the research proposes a taxonomy of martyr categories.

Author Biography

Oksana Didyk, H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Ukraine.

OKSANA DIDYK is a PhD fellow at the Department of Political Science, Sociology and Cultural Studies of H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Ukraine. Her dissertation is on the impact of personal brands on the political systems in the modern Middle East, focusing on Iran. Her research interests include political systems in the MENA region, the place and the impact of individuals in the political systems and social movements, cultural and regional studies, strategic political marketing and personal branding.


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