For the past four weeks, Iranians in Orange County have gathered at various locations to show their support for the uprising that is taking place in Iran. They have rallied at street corners in Irvine, at Community parks, in front of City Halls in Mission Viejo and Irvine. People from all age groups, from various backgrounds and different cultural, religious and political beliefs, have united to bring awareness to the brutality of the Islamic Regime, that has governed Iran for the past forty years. Never before has this measure of unity existed before. The same gatherings and demonstrations are taking place all over the world, in European Capitals and cities, in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the list goes on.
The spark that lit this fire was the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from the Kurdish region in Iran, who was taken by the “Morality Police” because her hair was not covered properly. The graphic pictures of her being attached to tubes and subsequently succumbing to her injuries has sparked anger and outrage in measures never before seen. What started as chants for more freedom and the removal of the hijab, or headscarves has morphed into the largest antigovernment movement that the country has seen. There have been demonstrations against the government before. The rebellion in 2009 against the government still evokes anger and sadness in everyone, because people believed that their election was rigged, and that Ahmadinejad had lost. Many people lost their lives during those uprisings.
Many people have lost their lives in these past four weeks as well, especially young teenagers, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen-year-old boys and girls, who risked their lives by defying the brutal forces the government unleashed on them. They did not fall to the ground from the third or fourth floor of a building by their own actions, as the government claims.
What makes this movement different though is that the message of women’s rights is a powerful one, a universal one, one that resonates with people all over the world. Iranian women, especially the young Millennials and the GenZ generation want a different future. They are not willing to be dominated any longer by the old, religious zealots who have been treating women as second class citizens for decades, with no rights, no freedom. They have listened to the stories their grandmothers have told them about the way things were before the Revolution, where women dressed as they liked, wearing Western-style clothes, or hijabs, if they wanted to. They were able to interact with men without being chased or interrogated by the police. They have seen pictures in albums with young men and women sitting next to each other in buses, in cafes, playing tennis, swimming, skiing, without being separated by their gender. They have also listened to their mothers who have abided by the strict rules and regulations the government has imposed on them, because they saw adaptation and modification as the only way to survive. These young women do not want to live their mothers’ lives. They want to be free. They want basic human rights, women’s rights, and they will not give up. They are bold, courageous, and defiant!
What we can do, here, thousands of miles away, is to give voice to their fight. The least we can do is to bring awareness to the brutality that has dominated Iran for more than forty years. The more the world knows, the better the chances for a change.
Shiva Farivar came to the United States in 1978 to pursue her higher education. She received her Bachelors degrees in Political Science and German Literature at the University of California, San Diego, and her Master’s Degree in German at UCI. She and her family moved to Irvine in 1994. She served as a Community Services Commissioner for eight years, and in 2018, she was recognized on Irvine’s Wall of Fame as a “Civic Leader”, for her years of service to the Irvine community and to the Iranian Community. She currently lives in Lake Forest, and teaches Persian at the Orange County Lingual Institute.
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