Iranian-Americans in SF protest Islamic leadership after woman dies from hijab

Mitra Guerin left Iran in 1973, before the Islamic Revolution, which overthrew the Shah of Iran and replaced him with a theocracy. She has not returned since.

“I don’t want to wear a headscarf,” Guerin said of Iran’s hijab law, which requires women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing.

“No one has the right to tell me what to do with my body. Control of a woman’s body should be in her hands,” she added.

On Saturday, Guerin joined nearly 100 people outside San Francisco City Hall to demonstrate in solidarity with the Iranian people. Protests have erupted across Iran, spurred by the death of a 22-year-old woman who was taken into custody by the country’s vice squad, which enforces Islamic law in Iran.

The group, which was mostly Iranian, held signs that read: “Women. Life. Freedom.” Several people wrapped themselves in the Iranian flag. They all chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic” in Farsi while some women wiped away their tears.

State Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblyman Matt Haney and San Francisco School Board Commissioner Lainie Motamedi, who is half Iranian, also attended the event. Saturday’s rally is one of many Bay Area protests held in solidarity with the people of Iran.

A protest is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday on the Golden Gate Bridge in support of Mahsa Jina Amini, whose death in police custody sparked international protests over the treatment of women in Iran. Across the country, other demonstrations took place in solidarity.

Amini died on September 16, three days after being taken into police custody. Iranian security forces released a statement saying she died of a heart attack while undergoing training on hijab rules. But her family disputed the statement, saying Amini was in good health, according to The New York Times.

His death sparked nationwide protests in Iran from people who have long resented religious laws. Videos posted on social networks showed Iranian women burning their hijabs and cutting their hair. At least 26 people have been killed in Iran during the protests, but the actual death toll is unknown. Iran has shut down internet access and restricted platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, which people use to stage protests.

In response, the US Treasury Department said US tech companies could expand their businesses in Iran to help increase Internet access for Iranians. Companies are generally unable to do so due to heavy international sanctions, which have been in place in one form or another since 1979, when a group of students took over the US embassy in Iran and took hostages.

In 2018, when then-President Donald Trump pulled out of an agreement between Iran and other countries that limited Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the United States imposed tougher sanctions. severe. Those sanctions remained in place under President Biden, and their impact on Iranians led to protests in 2019, said Persis Karim, director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University.

The protests in Iran have spilled over to women’s rights issues and other longstanding frustrations with the Iranian government, Karim said.

The sanctions have had a huge impact on ordinary Iranians, struggling with high food and gasoline prices and low wages, Karim said.

“People are fed up in Iran,” Karim said. “They are fed up with the repression. They are fed up with the economic situation. They are fed up with the corruption they see with their own government and the inability to participate in some sort of localized policy change.

That frustration was clear in San Francisco on Saturday as residents shouted “Reduce the sanctions” and “Don’t deal with these murderers” when Haney spoke of solidarity with the Iranian people.

Guerin and other Iranians, who spoke at the event, urged the US government to stop working with the Iranian government, criticizing the US for allowing Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to surrender in the United States and to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

“Don’t let them into the United States,” the San Francisco group shouted.

At the UN, Raisi did not acknowledge the protests in Iran. Instead, he criticized the United States and Europe for their sanctions and said Iran “rejects some governments’ double standards on human rights,” according to The New York Times.

Mandana Siyadat grabbed the microphone on the steps of City Hall and asked why the United States granted Raisi a visa when dozens of people were being killed in Iran.

“Aren’t we human? Why don’t you say anything? she questioned the US government. “Nobody says anything about the Iranians.”

As Siyadat descended the steps, she hugged a friend and began to sob.

Nearby, Eve Javey, a 25-year-old San Francisco resident, wiped away tears as she stood among the crowd listening to speakers. Javey, whose father is Iranian, said she first visited Iran in 2018.

“It’s just scary that it’s probably going to get worse and this amazing country with such amazing people is being held captive by people who are hoarding power,” Javey said.

Nima Rahimi, who sits on the city’s immigrant rights commission, is a member of the San Francisco Democratic Party’s executive council and helped organize Saturday’s event, said that now, when he looks at his daughter, who will be 1 year old in a few days, he can’t help but think of Amini’s father.

He said that while Iranians are suffering in the streets, it’s up to those outside Iran to amplify their voices and send a message to the Iranian government: “You can’t go on like this. Your head will be on the guillotine.

Guerin echoed Rahimi and said protesting and speaking out was the only thing they could do to help thousands of miles away.

“Even if we don’t go to Iran for 100 years, our blood is Iranian,” Guerin said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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