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Unlawful death sparks revolution in Iran

By Ella Polak Nov. 10, 2022

Quincy Han Art

Concluding her speech to the European Union Assembly, Swedish Europeaniii Parliament member Abir Al-Sahlani wielded a pair of scissors and shouted “Women, Life, Freedom!” before grabbing her ponytail and chopping it off, an act of solidarity with protesters of an Iranian law requiring women to cover themselves with hijab, or a hair covering, in public. The law was passed in 1983 in accordance with values of modesty suggested in Islam. Punishments include fines, mandatory re-education seminars and imprisonment.


Quincy Han Art

The protests are a direct response to the highly publicized death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was killed by Iran’s “morality police” for not wearing her hijab correctly. On Sept. 14, Amini was arrested by the Guidance Patrol and then transferred to the custody of Moral Security—another law enforcement agency. Eyewitnesses that were detained with Amini claimed she was beaten by police and fainted shortly afterward. Amini was taken to Kasra Hospital in Tehran and died on Sept. 16 after falling into a coma.


Initial protests began the day of Amini’s death and have spread rapidly across Iran. Social media videos display groups of protestors chanting slogans and twirling headscarves in the air. Many riots have turned deadly; Iran Human Rights reports that at least 255 protestors have been killed since Sept. 17. News has also emerged of police shooting live ammunition into crowds and using tear gas to disperse protestors. Government officials reacted to the civil unrest by deflecting blame for Amini’s death and claiming that the protests were driven by foreign influences, as per The Guardian.


“Prior to these protests, many associated the Iranian people with the Iranian regime. Thus, the actions of the government blinded them from seeing how the dictatorial regime’s problems affect everyday Iranians,” Sophomore Laily Afzalzadeh said.

The Iranian government has also restricted internet access to combat the resistance. When the initial protests erupted, the Internet was completely shut off in Tehran and parts of Kurdistan, regions where the protests were most intense. According to The Guardian, protestors have used social media to coordinate gatherings. As a result, since Sept. 21, the government has disabled Instagram and WhatsApp; both apps were also used to share videos and pictures of protests such as footage of people burning their hijabs.


“The uprising is not about opposing the hijab; their goal is to have the freedom of choice. Iranians want the freedom to express their beliefs through their choices, which includes women having a choice in whether they wear a hijab,” Senior Ava Ghaffari said.

The deaths of other women like Nika Shakarami and Hadis Najafi—both other protestors—have continued to sustain the movement, raising questions about police involvement in the crackdown on the protests. Shakarami, for example, was reportedly pushed off a tall building after leaving a protest. Members of her family were arrested after claiming her corpse showed evidence of blunt force trauma to the head, suggesting that her actual cause of death was different from what was reported, and that the police targeted Shakarami.


Quincy Han Art

While some protestors have participated in large gatherings with the sole intent of repealing hijab laws, others have expressed their hopes for a broader societal shift allowing for greater freedom of expression in Iran. The wide range of protests has led many people to suggest that there is enough political momentum to drive large-scale changes such as overthrowing the government. Although there have been similarly intense protests in Iran in the past such as the 2019 Bloody Aban protests, public demonstrations continuing months after Amini’s death reveal that the movement for freedom is persistent. Ultimately, the impact on people’s everyday lives will determine the legacy of this modern revolution.

 

About the Contributor

Ella Polak

staff writer



Ella Polak is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. She enjoys reading, volunteering and gardening in her free time.










Quincy Han

artist



Quincy is a senior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. He likes to play video games and listen to Will Wood.

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