His name was Hadis Najafi, he was 22 years old and was shot six times in Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, according to his family. Hadis had become one of the symbols of the revolt against compulsory hijab use due to viral footage of her pulling her blonde hair into a ponytail before a protest. A gesture so common in other parts of the world, it becomes a challenge when it comes to the streets of Iran and the security forces facing the most serious social uprising in the last three years.
Iran is experiencing its second week of mobilizations after the death of the young Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police. There are already at least 35 dead, according to official data, but activists and human rights organizations say there are many more. The authorities have warned that they will not tolerate more chaos in the streets and consider that the mobilizations are “encouraged by external enemies to overthrow the Islamic republic.” There are more than fifty cities that have registered violent clashes with the Police, from Iran’s Kurdistan, the area where Amini was originally from, to the main arteries of Tehran.
Not only in Tehran have there been strong protests. In the city of Qum, the center of power for the Shiite branch and the Iranian government, videos posted on social media show young women removing their veils and crowds chanting against Ayatollah Khamenei. President Raisi, returning to Iran from New York, where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, warned Friday in a speech at Tehran airport that the government “would not allow, under any circumstances, for the security of the country and the public to be in danger.
With each passing day it is more difficult to obtain information due to the Internet cuts imposed by the regime to make it difficult for the protesters to communicate. To this must be added the arrest of local reporters as warned by the Association of Journalists of Iran, which asked the authorities for the immediate release of colleagues arrested while covering the protests. “Our colleagues have been arrested during the performance of their professional duties,” reads the association’s statement, which also reports that their homes were searched by the police.
In the absence of political leaders in the streets capable of leading the anger of thousands of Iranians and offering an alternative to the Islamic system, people from the world of culture or sports show their support for the demonstrations on social networks. Two-time Oscar-winning film director Asghar Farhadi took to his personal Twitter account to call on “all artists, filmmakers, intellectuals and human rights defenders around the world to show their solidarity with the people of Iran.” recording videos or writing messages of support».
From the world of music came the support of Kayhan Kalhor, Kamanche performer, composer and teacher of classical Kurdish music, who denounced that the Instagram social network censored part of his content in which he showed his support for the demonstrations and criticized the regime.
Also national soccer legend Ali Karimi, with a past with teams like Germany’s Bayern Munich, shared an image of a number of VPN providers that Iranians can use to avoid government-imposed internet disruption, directing a tweet at the military that obtained more than 140,000 ‘likes’ in which he wrote: «A homeland awaits you. Don’t let innocent blood be spilled.”
The Revolutionary Guard called for Karimi’s arrest for his public support of the protests, but the former soccer player has long lived outside the Islamic republic. The European Union (EU) also reacted after ten days of protests and foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stated that “we hope that Iran will clarify the number of deaths and arrests, release all non-violent protesters and provide due process.” to all detainees. Furthermore, Mahsa Amini’s death must be properly investigated and anyone responsible for his death must be held accountable.”