In Iran, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed on September 16, 2022, while being detained for “wearing her hijab incorrectly”. This sparked a mass of protests throughout the country. This incident seemed to be the breaking point of decades of tension between the people of Iran and its government. As this murder gained attention, these protests began to spread across the world.
The Protests In Iran
The citizens of Iran filled the streets for two whole months, demanding justice and marching for freedom. Nearly anyone could be found in these protests; both young and old, men and women, Iran united for a singular cause. These demonstrations were loud and angry, fueled by the powerful emotion of the citizens in the crowd. Women would burn hijabs and cut their hair as they stood unified. At points of intense passion, some government buildings were even burned down by torches. Peaceful protests often go ignored in Iran, and have not proven useful in the past. Using passion to work towards a goal of freedom gained Iranians the attention they were desiring and helped to further their movement.
While these protests were largely seen in the streets of Iran, they occurred all over the country. They took place in schools, universities, and workplaces as well.
Unfortunately, the protesters were not safe. They were fired upon in the crowds, and hundreds were murdered, some of them being children. In addition to this, many were arrested and hung for going against the government.
The Protests From Boston
Democracy means different things to anyone you ask. For most Americans, it means freedom. Freedom of choice. Freedom to voice your opinions. Freedom to use your rights. It is vital that Americans use these freedoms, not only for themselves but for those that do not share the same liberties. On October 1, 2022, the protest took to the streets here in Boston. Hundreds flooded the paths of the Boston Common, heading towards the State House in solidarity with the women of Iran. Most had brought signs with them, either of Mahsa or other women that have lost their lives due to the harsh treatment they endured. They held their heads as high as they held their signs, proud and fierce, never willing to back down. They were loud. As they walked through the common, they chanted Mahsa’s name, proving that even when the Iranian government attempted to silence women, their voices ended up being even louder than they ever have been before.
“We don’t have one leader. The beauty and strength of our movement is that every single one of us here is a leader.”Golshan, a Women’s Rights Activist
The cause itself is controversial only in terms of whether or not one is on the side of the Iranian government or the women of the world. There is very little that those in the streets would not have done to continue the protest. Being in Boston, they were able to protest in solidarity, and the power was palpable. But while the fiery energy filled the air in the Boston Common with sounds of chants and yells, there was also a certain calmness that could be sensed. There was a certain sadness that everyone there felt knowing that something so unimaginable was happening to these women. It was a time of remembrance and a place for togetherness just as much as it was a protest.
What about those that couldn’t protest?
Gaining global attention is something almost rare, but important. These movements and protests amassed widespread outrage on different social media platforms in addition to the marches in the streets. The hashtag of Mahsa’s name, Iran, and the hijab ban were trending for weeks following the murder, only growing once the protests began. There was a viral video that many celebrities participated in, saying Mahsa’s name and explaining why all citizens should care. At this point, there are a million and one ways to help a cause. A tweet may seem like a useless tactic, something easily pushed aside and forgotten. However, when there are millions of people tweeting about the same thing, a virtual movement begins.
Looking to the Future
The future is hopeful as long as people keep fighting. Young people in particular have shown extreme resilience while abandoning their fear to push for a better, brighter future where everyone is safe and free to dress, act, and live how they want. While the outcomes of these protests can’t be said just yet, there is a sure feeling of unity and support.