On September 16, 2022, a 22-year old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iranian authorities for improperly wearing her hijab, the hair covering that all Iranian women are required to wear from a young age. Amini wasn’t defying the law, and only a few strands of her hair were visible, but she was taken into custody where she later died. Many believe that she was intentionally killed by the regime.
Amini’s death sparked a wave of protests that are being described as a Berlin Wall moment for Iran. Under the slogan “Jin, jiyan, azadi”, meaning “woman, life, freedom”, hundreds of thousands of women across more than 80 cities are burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in defiance of their government’s brutal and longstanding oppression of its female population. It’s one of the only revolutionary movements in history to be led almost entirely by women.
Whether the protesters will succeed in bringing about change, or whether they will be silenced by violence and intimidation, remains to be seen. But we in the West owe it to them to at least recognize the injustice they face and the bravery it takes to stand up to it.