Around the world, protesters took to the streets in solidarity in a show of international support for protesters facing a violent government crackdown in Iran, triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s moral police.
Amini was arrested on 13 September in Tehran for “inappropriate clothing” and died three days later in hospital, sparking waves of protests in which more than 200 people, including teenage girls, died.
On the National Mall of the United States, thousands of women and men of all ages – who wore green, white and red, the colors of the flag of Iran – sang. “Be afraid. Be afraid. We are one in this”, some shouted, before the march of the group to the White House. “Say his name! Mahsa!”
The demonstrations, organized by grassroots organizers from across the United States, drew Iranians from across the Washington, DC area, with some moving from Toronto to join the crowd.
In Los Angeles, home to the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran, a crowd of protesters formed a slow procession along the blocks of a closed downtown street. They sang for the fall of the Iranian government and waved hundreds of Iranian flags that turned the horizon into a wavy wave of red, white and green.
“We want freedom,” they thundered in unison.
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Shooka Scharm, a lawyer born in the United States after her parents fled the Iranian revolution, wore a T-shirt with the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in English and Farsi.
In Iran, “women are like second-class citizens, and they are fed up with it,” Scharm said.
He said women can be arrested for wearing the wrong makeup color, historically important women are omitted from the books, and have few rights in matters like divorce and child custody. Iranian women “oppose incredible difficulties for fundamental human rights”.
The Biden administration has said it condemns the brutality and repression against Iranian citizens and will seek ways to impose more sanctions against the Iranian government if the violence continues.
Last month at the United Nations General Assembly, President Biden alluded to the protest over Amini’s death and said the United States has sided with the “brave women of Iran who are demonstrating right now to ensure the their fundamental rights “.
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In an October 3 press release, Biden said the United States is working to make it easier for Iranians to access the Internet, “including by facilitating greater access to secure external platforms and services.”
Other anti-government protests took place in several universities in Tehran on Saturday. The national movement in Iran first focused on mandatory hijab coverage for women after Amini’s death on September 16. Since then, the Iranian protests have turned into the biggest challenge for the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement for the disputed elections.
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In Berlin, nearly 40,000 people showed up to show solidarity with the women and activists who have led the movement in recent weeks in Iran. Protests in the German capital, organized by the Woman’s Life Freedom Collective, began at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.
Some protesters claimed to have come from other parts of Germany and other European countries to show their support.
“It is so important for us to be here, to be the voice of the Iranian people, who are being killed in the streets,” said Shakib Lolo, who is Iranian but lives in the Netherlands. “And this is no longer a protest, this is a revolution, in Iran. And the people of the world must see it.”
In Paris, thousands of people gathered to show their support for Iranian citizens.
In October, Iranian, French feminist and political groups were among those who joined the rally in Republique Plaza before marching through eastern Paris.
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“Woman, Life, Freedom!” the crowd sang. Some banners read: “Freedom for Iranian women” or “No to compulsory hijab” or “#Mahsa Amini”.
The Associated Press contributed to this post.