ASU students and activists rally for Iranian women’s rights on Tempe campus

Hundreds of activists gathered Saturday at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died mysteriously in police custody in Iran.

Amini, 22, died three days after he was arrested by Iranian morality police on September 13 for not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards. Iranian authorities claim Amini died of a heart attack and coma. However, the Associated Press reported that her family challenged that claim, saying other detainees told them she had been severely beaten and not allowed to see her body. Amini’s death sparked protests and outcry against the Iranian leader.

A protester holds up a photo of Mahsa Amini on the Arizona State University Tempe campus on October 1, 2022. Amini was a woman who died under mysterious circumstances three days after Iranian morality police arrested her for not covering all her hair with a hijab.

“This is what (the Iranian government) has been doing for over 30 years, and we can’t tolerate it anymore,” said Nargis Kiani, one of the organizers of the event. “They killed our youngest daughter on the street. They killed everyone (then) said they didn’t kill her.”

The Tempe protest is one of many protests taking place in the United States and around the world. The Iranian government has imposed internet restrictions and has been accused of attacking activists to stop demonstrations within the country.

Rally organizer Hassam Rahimian said: “(Protesters in Iran) put their lives in their hands in the streets and they were shot. They were literally being attacked in the streets. Attack.” “But we do have that freedom. We have a right to be here and have a voice. We do want people of influence to take that responsibility and generate huge interest.”

At least 100 people arrived at Arizona State University Bridge for a solidarity rally and march around 5:30 p.m. By the time a memorial vigil began at 7 p.m., the crowd had grown to hundreds of protesters

Demonstrators protest against the Iranian government on the bridge at ASU's Tempe campus on October 1, 2022.

Demonstrators protest against the Iranian government on the bridge at ASU’s Tempe campus on October 1, 2022.

The event included ASU students among many activists, including 26-year-old Samah Saifullah, a graduate student studying urban and environmental planning.

“I’m a Muslim…I grew up in a Muslim community,” Saifula said. “Someone is dying for injustice. I feel like women all over the world are using their rights right now. So I want to show up.”

“As a woman, I feel like I (also) lost my rights in America,” Saifula said. “Particularly consider Roe v. Wade and how many of our democratic rights have been lost.”

A protester holds a sign as a speaker speaks to a crowd near the ASU Bridge on the Tempe campus on Oct. 1, 2022.

A protester holds a sign as a speaker speaks to a crowd near the ASU Bridge on the Tempe campus on Oct. 1, 2022.

Hoda, Ph.D., an Arizona State University student from Iran, declined to be named in an interview out of concern that the Iranian government would be swayed by participating in the protests.

“A lot of students are speaking out about what’s going on in Iran … they’re being threatened by the government,” Hoda said. “If we go back to Iran, they’d love to arrest us. Ask us questions. Detain us. That’s the regime. … They’re dictators. That’s what they do.”

“We implore the media to pay attention to this,” Rahimian said. “It’s unbelievable how little people notice this.”

Iranian women and activist Shadi Saraf said those who support the Iranian regime are in the minority.

“…But they are the ones with the guns. They have all the power,” Salaf said. “And we hope the West will put pressure on Iran.”

Contact reporter Jeremy Yurow Jyurow@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Activists push for Iranian women’s rights at Arizona State University Tempe campus rally

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