By Harivallabhi Ganapathy (‘24)
A 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, Mahsa (Zhina) Amini was visiting the city of Tehran with her family when the morality police arrested her for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely and not according to the morality laws. Eyewitnesses gave testimony claiming they saw the police beating her in a van. Confusion about her death reigned as the hospital she had been transferred to declared her brain dead officials stated that she had died of a sudden heart attack. Many people, including her family, believed she was killed by law enforcement, even though officials deny taking part in her death.
Protests have sparked in Iran due to this alleged unjust killing. As of October 15, at least 326 protesters have been killed. Attacks have also been issued in Amini’s hometown by the Revolutionary Guard, which is in charge of national security.
As recently as November 14, over 14,000 protesters have been arrested in Iran. Authorities are calling for harsh punishments including the death penalty which became true as one protester was sentenced to death for causing a government building to burn. Some of the imprisoned have been released but with a fine, while others face trials. In the coming weeks, Iran announced they will hold public trials in Tehran for over 1,000 protesters.
Senior Shaiyma Rasheed said, “My perspective on this is that it is definitely not Islamically moral or moral in general to force people to abide by the rules of Islam by covering themselves up. A person should be able to make that decision freely for themselves.”
Videos on TikTok and Instagram have shown Iranian women throwing their head scarves into bonfires as they chant “zan, zendegi, azadi,” translating to “women, life, and freedom”.
Due to this, Iran has blocked Instagram, Whatsapp, and Tiktok, denying citizens the right to speak out. Though these videos show the anger and sadness of these women, most social media platforms around the world are taking down these videos because it “violates community guidelines.”
People around the world have also shown their rage and sadness towards this situation. All over social media, women have been cutting their hair in protest and in support of Iranian women.
French Oscar-winning actresses, Julliette Binoche and Marion Cotillard have also cut their hair, showcasing it to all of their followers. Cutting hair is symbolic in Iranian culture, as it is used as a sign of protest, anger, and grief.
Regarding personal protest, social studies teacher Ms.Saldanha-Kunchram said, “The best I can do is teach about it and provide context for students to understand the situation better.”