Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad joined America’s Newsroom to urge the world to support Iranian citizens protesting the regime’s attack on women’s rights Wednesday.
Protests erupted in Iran following the in-custody death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini earlier this month, who was arrested for improperly wearing her hijab. Alinejad argued these past weeks of protest could truly push Iran’s Islamist regime toward change.
Amini compared the death of Amini to that of George Floyd in the U.S. She pointed out that protests erupted across the U.S. and the world following that incident, but there has been far less support for change in Iran.
“You’ve been in the U.S. for seven years. You’ve been watching these protests — they sparked up in 2019, they fired up even more in 2009 — do you believe what you’re seeing now will make a difference in your country?” host Bill Hemmer asked.
“Of course,” she responded. “Since the revolution, this is the first time, actually, that Iranian women decided to burn one of the most visible symbols of this dictatorship: compulsory hijab.”
“Don’t think that we are just fighting because we want to show our hair,” she continued. “This is about a gender apartheid regime which will actually kick you out from school if you show your beautiful hair from the age of seven.”
Iranian authorities have already slain dozens of protesters over the past 12 days of unrest, cutting off internet access to cover up the violence. Protesters have set fire to police stations and even killed several government enforcers from the Basij paramilitary group.
Iran’s internet blackout has made it difficult to ascertain how many people have been arrested or killed in the unrest. Some estimates say as many as 200 people have been killed and 10,000 have been arrested.
Police threatened on Wednesday to crack down “with all their might” on the demonstrations, which have now taken place in more than 150 cities.
The demonstrations first erupted after Iran’s morality police arrested Amini earlier in September for not wearing her hijab correctly. She suffered severe injuries while in custody and was later released to the hospital in a coma, where she soon died.
Iranian authorities have allegedly rejected responsibility for Amini’s death, claiming that she simply collapsed while in custody. Amini’s family says they found evidence of beatings on her body when they arrived at the hospital, however.