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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

OPINION: Mahsa Amini is giving the Iranian people a new voice

Protesters+gather+in+front+of+Old+Main+on+Sept.+30+to+talk+about+the+injustices+happening+to+the+Iranian+people.+People+gathered+to+spread+awareness+about+Mahsa+Aminis+death%2C+after+authorities+arrested+and+killed+her+for+allegedly+breaking+the+strict+Islamic+dress+code.+Protesters+asked+people+to+use+the+hashtag+%23OpIran+or+%23MahsaAmini+to+help+spread+the+message+and+support+Iran.%26nbsp%3B

Protesters gather in front of Old Main on Sept. 30 to talk about the injustices happening to the Iranian people. People gathered to spread awareness about Mahsa Amini’s death, after authorities arrested and killed her for allegedly breaking the strict Islamic dress code. Protesters asked people to use the hashtag #OpIran or #MahsaAmini to help spread the message and support Iran. 

One small piece of hair is all it took for Mahsa Amini to be murdered by Iranian morality police. That is one small piece that I take for granted every day as an Iranian girl born in America.

The theocracy of Iran has executed an intense power play within its own government, and between the government and the people. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian citizens have been stripped of many of their human rights that we in the Western world never think twice about.

Our school dress codes that forbid girls from wearing short shorts? In Iran, women are forced to cover their hair and their bodies with clothing completely. That is just one of the many discriminatory laws Iranian women face. They cannot travel, let alone obtain a passport, without their husband’s permission. When a woman is divorced and gets remarried, she must forfeit child custody.

The murder of Amini occurred on Sept. 16,  several days after she was beaten in Tehran by the police force and induced into a coma for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Her killing was shrugged off by the morality police as, “sudden heart failure,” and as, “unfortunate.”

To the rest of the world, she is now a heroine and she has, under unfortunate circumstances, given Iranian women a platform they have lacked since the revolution. First, Iranian citizens brazenly took to the streets, protesting the immoral actions of the morality police, even burning their headscarves to show that they are not afraid. I am proud to see individuals banding together all across the world in solidarity with the women of Iran, whether they are Persian or not. Many are spontaneously cutting their hair and gathering for rallies, while celebrities are raising awareness on social media and in person.

I rarely heard about Iranian tragedies — or news, period — through the media as I was growing up. Sure, my parents kept me informed about the next innocent person to be thrown in prison, but that was because they had the foreign news sources on hand. They were also directly connected to those tragedies as immigrants. At the start of the revolution, my mother fled Iran without her parents at the age of 13, while my dad escaped in 1984 as a 23-year-old. They both left to avoid religious persecution and to be free from the brutality of the Iranian government, and I am beyond fortunate that they did.

As I sit here reading about the resilient women and supporters of Iran, I am more moved by my family’s country than ever. Looking at the faces that risked so much in striving for equality makes me emotional. There is an indelible feeling in me as I see the valiance of the Iranian women inspire all sorts of people to fight for Iran’s freedom.

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After all this fighting and death, I certainly do not want to see much of the Western world return to being indifferent towards Iran like I feel it has been before. Amini is sadly not the last martyr that the country will see. Nika Shakarami, a 16-year-old, avidly protested against Iranian theocratic officials following Amini’s murder, but went missing for 10 days after a protest on Sept. 20. The last message on her phone stated that she was being chased by security forces and, sure enough, her body was eventually found in a village 25 miles away from her home town.

The innocent citizens of Iran deserve justice, so I urge my peers to avoid negligence. Remember the names Mahsa Amini (Mah-saw Ah-mee-nee) and Nika Shakarami (Nee-kaw Shaw-kaw-raw-mee), and the names of many more who have died in their brave attempts. I would also like to thank the women and men who have supported Iran since this tragedy. Let this tragedy blossom into an opportunity for the Iranian people to get their freedom back — to allow Iranian-Americans like myself to experience our country of origin with ease and to see our aunts and grandmas feel content once again. A family friend of mine and University of Arizona alumna beautifully reflects, “Finally a small window into the beauty of my people, before the revolution silenced them.”


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Noor Haghighi is a second-year student exploring ways to harness her passions in environmental science and journalism. She loves wildlife photography and portraiture, fashion, music and film.
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