Minha Khan

Cannon Managing Editor

Author’s Note: Some of our articles are more entertaining and lighthearted, however this article is on serious subject matter. We, at the Cannon Magazine, believe that staying up to date and speaking on global issues is important, so we hope you appreciate this piece too as you enjoy the others. 

This is the slogan behind the revolution that is sweeping Iran right now, one that was lit ablaze on September 13, 2022. On that day, Mahsa Amini found herself detained by Iran’s defacto religious policing force, Gasht-e Ershad. The twenty-two year old Kurdish Iranian had been wearing the hijab (Islamic headscarf) improperly by revealing a portion of her hair, according to the country’s strict religious clothing observance laws. Three days later, on September 16th, Mahsa died in a hospital, while in police custody. The police say Mahsa died from a heart attack. Her family and the women of Iran say differently: Mahsa was punished for her hair, and this punishment led her to death. 

The protests began quickly. With Iranian women at the forefront, Iranian citizens gathered in masses on the streets to decry what had happened to Mahsa and challenge the regime’s laws surrounding the hijab. Women came together not only in solidarity for Mahsa but to fight for their right to choose. Protests are occurring in major cities and small villages alike across Iran and cropping up in high schools and universities. It is reported that 75 people have been killed and 1200 people arrested as police forces push back on those demonstrating. Economic stress has added volatility to the current uprisings.The pandemic and economic sanctions from the West has left little in the pockets of millions. 

Iran is a nation that has undergone drastic changes in the last few decades, concocting the conditions for the chaos it is currently facing. Like many countries in the Middle East, competing interests and external powers have continuously undermined the peace of the state. The Islamic revolution of 1979 brought the Islamic republic into power, eliminating the previously ruling Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlevi. All women were made to dress according to Islamic rules, even though forcing religion onto someone is outside the rules of Islam itself. These were women who had previously been dressing and living liberally under the Shah. The Shah had ruled with a Western hand, making it illegal to wear religious veils and oppressing tribes to reach his goal; he envisioned an Iran that mimicked the Western way of life. 

Now, in strong defiance, women are chanting, fighting back, removing their hijabs, standing up for their freedom to autonomy. People around the world are showing up on the streets in their own cities too, in solidarity with Iran. Whether it be under the Shah or under the Islamic republic, whether they don the hijab proudly or go confidently without, people are marching for the same reason, the right to choose. The history and politics of Iran may be complex but the cause is not. In fact, it takes just three words to know it: “Women, Life, Freedom.”

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