Around The World, Protesters Take To The Streets In Solidarity With Iranian Women
Protesters have gathered in cities around the world in recent days — including a large protest in Los Angeles — in a show of solidarity with women in Iran.
The gatherings are an echo of the protests that have erupted in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country's so-called morality police.
Whether in Istanbul or L.A., protests are marked by the striking words and images that have typified the protests rocking Iran: chants of "Women, life, freedom!" and in some cases, women taking scissors to their hair.
"When Iranian woman see what happened to Mahsa, they think it could have happened to them because you hardly find an Iranian woman who has not been either warned or detained or harassed by the morality police," Golnaz Esfandiari, senior correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, told NPR last week. "So we all know we've all had this experience."
"I was talking to several women in Iran, and they told me, look, even if she wasn't tortured, but she probably died from fear. She had a heart attack from fear. Because they know how scary this is," Esfandiari said.
In Turkey's most populous city, hundreds reportedly gathered on Sunday to protest against the Iranian government.
In Washington, protesters gathered in Farragut Square, holding signs and chanting Amini's name.
There was also a candlelight vigil in front of the White House on Saturday night in support of anti-government protesters in Iran.
"This time is different because, in my opinion, is led by the women. Women are the revolutionaries ... at this time in history," said protester Aref Alvandi at the D.C. rally, according to ABC News.
"Iranian people are not backing down. The Iranian regime has miscalculated their resolve for changing this regime, and we're asking the White House to do the same," demonstrator Ramesh Sepehrrad told the D.C. affiliate of NBC News.
On Capitol Hill last week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution condemning Amini's detention and death. The resolution calls for the government of Iran "to end its systemic persecution of women."
The L.A. metro area is home to a large population of Iranian immigrants — more than one-third of the U.S. population of Iranian descent lives in the area, as we reported here at LAist over the weekend.
A march through the city's downtown ended at City Hall. Marchers played drums, shouted "Free Iran," held Iranian flags, and held aloft signs with messages such as "No to Islamic Republic" and "Freedom for Iran."
Thousands marched in San Francisco on Saturday in support of the Iranian protests.
Nazanin Balsa, an Iranian woman living in the United States, told NPR that the death of Amini is heartbreaking, but not surprising.
"I was dragged with my hair on the street because I didn't have my hijab right. And I know how they can kill you. It's not very shocking to me, but I'm glad the world is waking up to how brutal this regime is," Balsa said.
During the protests, marchers chanted Amini's names, and held up photos — some of Amini, while others held photos of their own loved ones who are arrested or missing in Iran.
In Kabul last week, about 30 women in headscarves protested outside the Iranian embassy chanting, "Women, life, freedom," according to Voice of America.
But Taliban security forces dispersed the protests with force, tearing at banners and firing into the air, Voice of America reported.
"We are sure that one day, our people will rise in the same way as the Iranian people," a protester who spoke on condition of anonymity told the news outlet.
In the French capital, several feminist groups organized a protest in support of Iranian women on Friday evening, calling for President Emmanuel Macron to take action.
"Internet access has been limited in Iran, so we have a role to play in relaying the messages of Iranian men and women here and amplifying their actions," Fabienne El-Khoury, the spokeswoman for feminist group Osez le Féminisme, told France24.
"When we protest here [in France], we do not fear for our lives. We salute the courage of Iranian women who are playing their part by taking to the streets and continuing to unveil themselves publicly to call for equality and social justice in a country where women's bodies are controlled by the state," she added.