Members of CSUN’s Iranian Students Association gathered on the University Lawn, to speak out and sing songs on Saturday, Oct. 8, in remembrance of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old died while in the custody of the “morality police” in Tehran last month after she was arrested for allegedly violating the government’s strict hijab laws, which mandate covered hair and loose-fitting clothing. Her death sparked uprisings in Iran, many of them started by women. Rallies in support of human rights and the Iranian people have taken place all over the world.
Iranian Student Association President Peivand Mehrabadi, a senior systems and operations management major in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, said it is important to speak out, as students in Iran have been beaten and arrested for protesting the death of the young Kurdish-Iranian woman.
“We must be their voice… to talk about what is happening in Iran,” she said.
After Amini’s death, many Iranian women took to the streets to protest laws that limit their rights. While some women choose to wear hijabs, for religious reasons or out of cultural pride, in Iran head coverings are required. Videos have shown some women burning their hijabs in protest and others who have cut their hair, a symbolic act of protest and mourning.
University students in Iran also began protesting the current government. Students were fired upon at a sit-in on the campus of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran earlier this month.
Commenting on the situation, CSUN President Erika D. Beck said the university stands in solidarity with those who want to protect human rights and freedoms.
“On behalf of the CSUN community, we want to express our concern about the unfolding situation in Iran in response to the death of Mahsa Amini,” she said.
“We support those protesting for a free society and equality and dignity for women and their call for ‘Women, life, freedom.’ We offer our deepest sympathies to the family of Ms. Amini and support to members of our community who may have been impacted by this tragedy.”
Associated Students President Shayan Moshtael was among the sixty or so students and supporters who attended Saturday’s rally in front of the University Library. He said students around the world should support each other.
“Any group of students… brave enough to stand up and speak for their rights —- and we have the ability to express such things without being met with violence or death… we need to be their voice,” he said.
The podium on the University Lawn was decorated with red, green and white Iranian flags. Students also placed small flags with photos of Mahsa Amini around the grass. A table in front of the speakers held photos of young Iranian citizens killed for speaking out.
Nayereh Tohidi, a professor emerita and former chair of the gender and women’s studies department, spoke to those gathered at the event. She said that the fight for women’s rights did not begin with the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s. It has been going on far longer, with varying degrees of success.
“For at least 118 years, women in Iran have been fighting for their rights. They gained some of those rights under the previous regime, and they also had to fight for it,” she said.
Marches and demonstrations in support of the Iranian people have taken place at universities and in cities throughout the United States. Thousands of people marched through downtown Los Angeles earlier this month in solidarity with the protests in Iran.