The killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by Iran’s so-called morality police in Iran has triggered widespread anti-government protests throughout the country. The Iranian regime is brutally suppressing thousands of enraged citizens, staging protests against the government for its role in Amini’s murder and enforcing the country’s mandatory hijab law.
Authorities have responded to the nationwide protests in Iran with ruthless brutality, attacking protesters with tear gas, water hoses, and shooting into crowds. According to media reports, at least four other women have been killed in the ongoing protests. They are 23-year-old Hannaneh Kia of Nowshahr in Mazandaran Province, 32-year-old Ghazaleh Chelavi of Amol city, 18- year old Mehsa Mogoi, and Minu Majidi of Kermanshah. There has been an outpouring of support from Iranian men who are protesting along with the women. The security forces in Amol city also killed 21-year-old Erfan Rezai.
One of the most vocal supporters of the protesters is Iranian-American journalist, author, and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad who lives in exile in New York City. Alinjead has been protesting outside the UN headquarters in New York, criticizing western governments for engaging with Iran, demanding they stop negotiating with “these savages, and be tough on the Islamic Republic.”
She has been speaking passionately on television and social media, criticizing western female politicians for wearing hijabs while visiting Iran, saying that it legitimizes the oppressors of Iranian women. “I said that shame on you. You are wearing hijab while my women are getting beaten up in the streets. People called me angry woman. Now, men are angry in the streets because Mahsa got killed, and all those female politicians now should be accountable for all of us feminists.” Alinjead demands the world take action by recalling all their ambassadors from Iran. She said she was fed up and tired of giving interviews and talking and telling the rest of the world such a basic thing, like “Don’t obey Taliban, don’t obey Islamic Republic. Our blood and our body are the same. Like you, the Western feminist western woman, you actually are now loud enough to say my body my choice. When it comes to us, you ignore our bodies because you believe that our bodies are the political platform for the Taliban or the Islamic Republic to write their own ideology on our bodies. And we have to carry one of the most visible symbols of oppression with us. Why? Because you think this is multicultural? This is an insult to Iranian women, to women of Afghanistan who are being abandoned.”
Alinejad appeals to women worldwide to come out on the streets, give voice to Mahsa, and say her name. “For me, this is very clear. Human rights, women’s rights, not an internal matter. It should be a global matter, and it should not be a political agenda for anyone. Put your political agenda behind you and take to the streets everywhere until the day you make sure that every single woman has freedom in the Middle East as well. Don’t just think about women in the West. We will not receive democracy until the day women of Iran and Afghanistan have freedom and dignity,” said Alinejad.
The Islamic Republic is engaged in a brutal crackdown and organizing counter-demonstrations in several Iranian cities. The regime has also been using Telegram “to identify and harm” protesters. The government’s channel called Setade114, which currently has more than 20,000 subscribers, has been referred to by activists as a “snitch line” where Iranians can share photos and videos to expose the identities of anti-government demonstrators.
Iranian authorities have also arrested journalists and activists, including Fatemeh Rajabi, Ruhollah Nakhaee, Mohammad Reza Jalaeipour, and Majid Tavakoli. In a statement, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) said, “The ongoing brutal crackdown on protesters in Iran provides further confirmation that Iranian authorities are continuing on a path of flagrant authoritarianism and cruelty that could fan the flames of internal unrest. In the face of criticism, Iranian leaders have only doubled-down on their unjust policies and escalated their tactics of violence and intimidation against the people of Iran. NIAC stands with the Iranian people and with people around the world who have rightly and strongly condemned the Islamic Republic for its brutality and its refusal to acknowledge the right of Iranian protesters to air their grievances without fear of reprisal.”
Alinjad says that Mahsa was killed by the so-called morality police just because a little bit of her hair was showing from the hijab she was wearing. Imploring everyone to give voice to the protesters and add their own voice to expose the brutality and cruelty of the Iranian regime, Alinejad is appealing to all on social media, “It’s now or never. Iranians started it, and we will finish it, but ask yourselves what can you do to help. World leaders know the world is a better place without Islamic Republic of Iran. What will you do to help?”
Nobel Laureate Malala Yousufzai said on Twitter, voicing support for the women of Iran, “Whatever a woman chooses to wear, she has the right to decide for herself. As I have said before, if someone forces me to cover my head, I will protest. If someone forces me to remove my scarf, I will protest. I am calling for justice for Mahsa Amini.”