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Iran’s New Wave of Activism

Maya Brener, Grade 10, Staff Writer


Social media has amplified politics. On September 16th, 2022, a video of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, getting beaten to death in Iran after breaking the hijab law went viral. This widespread shock sparked a new, quickly developing wave of activism; global rallying for Iranian peoples’ civil rights, particularly women. Anti-government protests in Iran were bolstered, hijab laws have been publically defied, and the Iranian people have taken a firm stance against their government.

“Women have been oppressed and silenced” during a time when feminism is spreading across the globe, explained Ari Schaer (‘25). Though the oppression of the Iranian people goes back decades, the sudden movement gained strong international support as it personally connected with many students at HSAS.

Mollie Kuritzky (‘25) adds that “hearing real stories and experiences through women” allowed her and others to connect with the issue and urged many to join in the fight online. This new wave of activism has women at the center of it, inspiring many and gaining traction from a variety of different people.

Along with women’s oppression, Iranians banded together for a multitude of reasons, including the economic crisis, limited freedom and expression, and the overall brutal treatment of civilians. As a result, Iranian citizens have participated in a variety of protests, both in and out of the country, demonstrating their unity and bravery as a nation. Iran’s hard-line, rigid government’s responses to these acts show their concerns of rebellion.

When Iran’s soccer team refused to sing their national anthem at the World Cup, they were met with threats of torture for themselves and their families. Attempts at reform have been met with physical violence, and the murder of over 400 civilians, including children.

“[The] government’s focus is on power and staying in power,” stated Amena Steenhuis (‘25).

The government’s oppressive reactions are a direct impact of the pressure felt by public uprisings. Iran is the only Middle Eastern country to have defeated two dictatorships, along with a 120-year history of street uprisings that threatens the government.

These changes have made the government reevaluate their policies in order to lessen rebellion, as described in the Wall Street Journal. The government has started by disbanding its morality police - the institution responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini.

As argued by Schaer, “getting rid of one establishment doesn’t erase or stop oppression . . . it will still be in society.” While this change doesn’t show a drastic change in government or the opportunity for impact, it demonstrates the results produced by continuous advocacy.

However, as agreed upon by many, there cannot be change in Iran until there is a separation of religion and state in its government.

“Religious leaders are running the government and all laws are being pertained to a religion that not everyone follows,” explained Kuritzky. This allows them to use religion as a justification for their oppressive acts. Until this change occurs, change in Iran will be a constant uphill battle, but one surely worth the fight.

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