Protests Continue Amid Crisis In Iran


Parsa Aghazadeh, Contributing Writer

On September 16, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was pronounced dead after having fallen into a coma. Her story has had lasting reverberations, sparking several protests all over her country and the world.


Mahsa Amini lived in Tehran, Iran, where everyone is required to strictly follow the Muslim religion. This has been the case since the Islamic government took over in 1979, after a revolution terminated the reign of their final king, Reza Shah Pahlavi. Many people were frustrated by how the Shah was westernizing the country’s culture to appeal to other countries like England and the U.S. The Shah was also suspected of being under the influence of England and the U.S. and sold them much of Iran’s precious oil, essentially giving away his country’s riches. Unaware that he was being manipulated, the Shah was forced out of the country by the Iranian people, who proceeded to start a new era free of monarchial rule. Many wanted to reinstate religion as a large part of Iran’s culture, as they feared without religion, the country would fully assimilate to the Western lifestyle and lose its authenticity.


The government that formed just a month after the revolution represented an extreme form of its citizens’ wishes for Iran’s future. The new Islamic government made their religion and its practice mandatory, regardless of whether or not some people affiliated themselves with other religions. This mainly took away women’s freedoms; they became required to cover their whole body (including their hair) because showing themselves would apparently “excite” or “attract” men, girls and boys were separated to their respective schools by gender, women were not allowed to ask for a divorce, women were prohibited from attending sporting events, and if they ever participated in sports, they had to wear their hijabs.


The morality police force, which is now more publicly condemned than ever before, was formed to make sure people — particularly women — followed such measures, doing anything in their seemingly limitless power to do so. Mahsa Amini is a victim of the morality police’s brutal treatment of women. Despite the police repeatedly denying it, they likely beat her into a coma for having improperly worn her hijab, causing her to pass away just a few days later.


The protests extend way beyond the death of Mahsa Amini; rather, her passing was the tipping point of the anger and frustration building up among those living in the Islamic regime over the last 43 years. Several acts of protests have occurred since then. The chants “Women, Life, Freedom” and “Death to the Dictator,” ring out from the infuriated protesters, not just in the country but all over the world; students are seen smashing pictures of the former dictator of Iran and waving their hijabs in the air; many women have burned their hijabs and even cut their hair in retaliation — this is all quite remarkable, especially considering the steps they’re already taking to forfend their desired rights. The most significant part about this is that those standing up against this oppressive regime are both Muslim and non-Muslim. Evidently, this is a movement for everyone’s rights, and everyone is there to support each other regardless of who may or may not be religious.


Unfortunately, this doesn’t prevent morality police from using torturous methods to try and suppress the people protesting. They have been seen using live ammunition on people and beating them on multiple occasions, resulting in a staggering 230 people killed, with twenty-three of them being children as young as eight years old.


The morality police won’t stop at any degree to silence these people, who have done nothing but peacefully protest. A singer by the name of Shervin Hajipour wrote a song which became Iran’s “anthem” for the movement — just a few days later he was taken into custody, and no one knows where he may be now. Niloofar Hamedi, the woman who first publicized the news about Mahsa Amini’s death, was immediately captured and again there is no knowledge of her whereabouts. Evin Prison in Tehran, notorious for holding innocent people, such as protesters, news reporters, and even political figures, was burned down. It seems that the Iranian government did this, but they haven’t admitted it. The government instead blamed it on the prisoners without providing any evidence. The government has also been cutting off internet connection in Iran to keep people from informing the rest of the world about what’s happening.


For the past 43 years they’ve been suppressing protesters, thinking it would scare them enough to avoid any breaches or uprisings against their marginalizing restrictions. But now, these aggressive acts of silencing people have only created more determination from those standing up for what’s right. No longer is this stopping people from taking to the streets and demanding for reform; no longer are protesters scared to lose anything. All has been lost, and now they’re simply trying to gain everything back.


This is no ordinary demonstration. The amount of bravery it takes, especially for these women, to fight back against a government that has been so destructive to their liberty and so controlling over their lives is incredible. Each day they go through their lives like fearless soldiers going into battle, fully aware of the risks that may come with just one encounter with government forces—but they continue to do it because they know it’s the only way anything can be done in their society. They believe so deeply in the future of their country that they are willing to accept death if it means something will change. With such strength and courage, I believe these women will truly be able to start a new era, one that will finally move on from Iran’s authoritarian and abusive ways.

Mahsa Amini (left) & the protests that followed her death (right)

Source: Sky News