WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. − Hundreds of universities across the world hosted campus rallies for Iran on Wednesday with a focus on the Women, Life, Freedom Movement.
On September 16, 2022, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in a Tehron hospital. According to many reports, three days earlier, she had been arrested by Iran’s Guidance Patrol, or “morality police,” for “improperly” wearing her hijab.
She fell into a coma after being beaten inside the police van she was placed in after being arrested, according to reports.
On the 17th of September, the phrase “Women, Life, Freedom” was chanted by crowds during Amini’s funeral. This slogan was adopted across the country and beyond in protest of totalitarian laws.
A brief history
The Iranian Revolution on 1979 lead to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Under the laws of the Islamic Republic women were not just subjected to compulsory veiling but also gender segregation,” an article from HistoryToday.com says. “City spaces were divided along gender lines. ‘Women only’ areas were created, while other spaces, such as football stadiums, remained off-limits. These arrangements were considered to be the pillars of the Islamic Republic: highly symbolic and non-negotiable.”
For the last 43 years, Iranian women and supportive men have protested in order to improve their situation.
Campus Rally at Purdue
Members of the Iranian community in the Greater Lafayette area, including those in the Iranian Culture Club (ICC), gathered at the Krach Leadership Center in West Lafayette to provide a demonstration that featured videos, statements, and reenactments of current, tragic events happening in Iran.
This Campus Rally was part of a larger effort that extended all over the world with hundreds of universities world-wide participating in similar rallies on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
The Wednesday sessions at Purdue were offered at two different time slots. Each shared music about the movement such as “For Woman, Life, Liberty (Baraye)” by Shervin Hajipour – performed by Rana Mansour and reenactments of just a few of the stories of those who have lost their lives in the current Iranian protests.
The stories of Negin Abdolmaleki, a 21-year-old student; Hadis Najafi, 22; Javad Heidari, 36; Sarina Esmaeilzadeh, 16; and Amini, 22, were all shared.
Emotional displays of actors portraying the protestors and Iranian Guidance Patrol members punctuated their tragic stories.
An interview with a protester
An anonymous person who participated in the Campus Rally demonstrations spoke with the Journal & Courier about their views and hopes for the future of Iran.
Why was this event put on?
“Iranians outside Iran tried all they can do to just be their (those in Iran’s) voice,” the participant said. “Especially (now) because the Internet (in Iran) was totally shut down so we were so overwhelmed that they were killing them inside (Iran), and we need to do something.
“That was the reason people started emailing to the organizations (like ICC)… but these small voices were not heard and got lost because there were too many and too small of voices. So people started gathering together and have this loud united voice. So it can bring international attention to them.”
Why is this important to you?
“Because enough is enough,” the participant said. “Because people have been suppressed and oppressed for over 40 years…(Those in Iran) don’t have a chance to do all these great things in their own country because (they’re not allowed to). And they have to just immigrate, like, for example, myself. Being far from my country, my friends, my family…and I needed to put them behind and just come to totally new and different country and start from zero.
“And the people who are in Iran, also cannot live the way they want. Just because of ‘improper’ hijab, they can kill you. So this is so unfair and we think that the people at this point are more aware and they are educated more than the government, so this is a (progressive) movement, when you are ahead of your government.”
What changes do you want to see in Iran?
“A democratic government,” the participant said. “like with a president, (and) without any kingdoms, supreme leaders.
“…The future for Iran is some democratic government who will really pay attention to what people want, and a free Iran. So people can be free in what they decide to wear, what kind of profession they want to have. And they have this opportunity to grow in whatever they want.”
Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Local members of the Iranian community protest today’s state of Iran