Fervor for Freedom Ignites in Iran

by Deedee Alpert (she/her)

The decades-long struggle to secure freedom of expression and belief in Iran returned this September, as protesters in Tehran continue to risk their lives in pursuit of gaining a more democratic government. Following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, tens of thousands of Iranians gathered in protest of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his administration.

Amini was detained on Sept. 13 after the country’s morality police claimed to find her violating Iran’s compulsory hijab law, a regulation introduced to the country in 1983 that states that all women must wear a hijab in public. On Sept. 16, she died in a Tehran detention center, likely due to blows from a violent police force, but was declared by an Iranian coroner to have passed due to an unrelated heart attack.

In the seven-weeks following, hundreds have been killed by security forces for Amini’s cause. Tens of thousands in Iran have lined the streets, bolstered by the popular slogan, “Jin, jiyan, azadi!”—“Women, life, freedom!”

Outside of the nation’s borders, people globally have joined in the cause for civil liberties, including women in Kerala who burned a hijab in a display of solidarity for. In response, Khamenei blamed the hundreds of deaths to be consequences of Israel and the U.S’s involvement in the conflict. “I say frankly that these incidents were designed by America, the fake Zionist regime [in Israel], those who are on their payroll and some traitorous Iranians abroad who helped them,” said Khamenei in a speech on Oct. 3.

Iran officials have continued to curate the nation's news sources and have not rescinded any current media and foreign communications limitations. Protesters in and outside of Iran remain hopeful that their objections will not only be heard but listened to and that their voices will soon create a necessary change.