A small piece of hair was enough for Mahsa Amini to be murdered by the Iranian morality police. It’s a little piece that I take for granted every day as an American-born Iranian girl.
Iran’s theocracy has executed an intense power play within its own government, and between the government and the people. Since 1979 Islamic RevolutionIranian 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 prohibit girls from wearing short shorts? In Iran, women are forced to completely cover their hair and body with clothes. It’s just one of many discriminatory laws Iranian women face. They cannot travel, much less obtain a passport, without their husband’s permission. When a woman divorces and remarries, she must give up custody of her children.
The Amini’s murder occurred on September 16, days after she was beaten in Tehran by police and put into a coma for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. His murder was ignored by the morality police as “sudden heart failure” and as “unfortunate”.
For the rest of the world, she is now a heroine and she has, in unfortunate circumstances, given Iranian women a platform that they have lacked since the revolution. First, Iranian citizens brazenly took to the streets, protesting against the immoral actions of the morality police, even burning their headscarves to show that they are not afraid. I am proud to see individuals all over the world coming together in solidarity with the women of Iran, whether Persian or not. Many are spontaneously to cut one’s hair and gathering for rallieswhile celebrities raise awareness on social media and in person.
I rarely heard about Iranian tragedies – or news, period – through the media while I was growing up. Of course, my parents kept me informed about the next innocent person to be thrown in jail, but that was because they had the foreign sources of information at hand. They were also directly linked to these tragedies as immigrants. At the start of the revolution, my mother fled Iran without her parents at the age of 13, while my father escaped in 1984 at the age of 23. They both left to avoid religious persecution and freedom from the brutality of the Iranian government, and I am more than lucky that they did.
As I sit here reading about the resilient women and supporters of Iran, I am more moved than ever by the country of my family. Watching the faces that have risked so much fighting for equality moves me. There is an indelible feeling in me when I see the bravery of Iranian women inspiring all kinds of people to fight for Iran’s freedom.
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After all this fighting and death, I certainly don’t want to see much of the Western world become indifferent towards Iran again as I think it has been before. Amini is unfortunately not the last martyr the country will see. Nika Shakaramia 16-year-old girl, protested strongly against Iranian theocratic officials after Amini’s murder, but disappeared for 10 days after a protest on September 20. The last message on her phone said she was being chased by security forces and, sure enough, her body was eventually found in a village 25 miles from her home town.
Innocent Iranian citizens deserve justice, so I urge my peers to avoid any negligence. Remember the names Mahsa Amini (Mah-saw Ah-mee-nee) and Nika Shakarami (Nee-kaw Shaw-kaw-raw-mee), and the the names of many others who died in their valiant attempts. I would also like to thank the women and men who have supported Iran since this tragedy. May this tragedy turn into an opportunity for the Iranian people to regain their freedom – to allow Iranian-Americans like me to experience our homeland with ease and see our aunts and grandmothers feel content again. A family friend of mine and University of Arizona alumnus reflects beautifully, “At last a little 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 for environmental science and journalism. She loves wildlife photography and portraiture, fashion, music and cinema.