Guest post by Iranian New Yorker
[New York City] On Saturday, October 1st, protests and demonstrations occurred worldwide on an unprecedented scale. These protests and demonstrations - adopting the motto of “Women, Life, Freedom” - aimed to voice opposition to the treatment and death of Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old woman, in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police. Social media exposure of the outcry of these protests and demonstrations is virtually ubiquitous and stands as a testament to the solidarity of purpose between the global and Iranian communities in respect of blatant human rights abuses, in particular against Iranian women.
Since Amini’s death on September 16,2022, Iran has been consumed by street protests and violence. Iran remains one of the only remaining countries globally that mandates the wearing of the hijab by women.
For its part of the global protest, New York City saw approximately 10,000 gather in solidarity with the women of Iran joining in their peaceful protests; protests which have taken place daily since the death of Amini. The October 1st demonstration began at the corners of 14th Street and 5th Avenue and
continued north 14 blocks and culminated at Washington Square Park.
During the NYC protest, marchers chanted Say her name and Mahsa Amini. Other New Yorkers held signs immortalizing the phrase “Women, Life, Freedom”; a phrase which has become the rallying cry of what is now considered the largest worldwide women’s movement in opposition to a dictatorship. To stem this movement’s growth, since Amini’s death on September 16th, the Iranian regime has shutdown the Internet in an effort to destabilize any and all opposition in the country.
It is this attempt at silencing dissent that has led New York City and thousands from the Iranian diaspora to join with their fellow Iranians (in Iran) to ensure that these miscarriages of fundamental human rights are heard and voiced out loud on a global scale. It has been estimated that the Farsi equivalent of Mahsa_Amini has been retweeted over 30 million times (reaching 100 million users) despite the Internet shutdown; making it the most retweeted hashtag in Twitter history.
Additionally, it would be unavoidable for any objective bystander at Saturday’s NYC demonstration not to sense palpable frustration of the protesters as it pertains to current US foriegn policies and activities vis à vis Iran. The general frustration emanates from a perceived US failure to understand and recognize
fundamental human rights while simultaneously enabling the Iranian regime through ongoing concessions. Examples include the recent appearance by Iranian President Raisi at the UN General Assembly as well as mass speculation in respect of US payments for the release of political prisoners.
Despite varying levels of anger and dissent apparent throughout Saturday’s protest, as an Iranian New Yorker (and as a woman) the transformation of Washington Square Park nevertheless provided a sense of hope and optimism for better times ahead.