Berkeley universities

Protests over woman’s death escalate in Iran, solidarity rally draws hundreds to UC Berkeley

Hundreds of people from the Bay Area joined protesters across the country on Friday. They are shocked by the death of a woman in Iran who was arrested after being accused of not wearing her hijab properly. A crowd, estimated at 500, marched at the University of California, Berkeley.

Putting their pain into signs and songs of protest, hundreds of people from Iranian communities in the Bay Area came together.

They chanted the name of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in police custody after being arrested on September 16 by Iranian morality police for her alleged offense of not wearing her headscarf tight enough.

Police said she died of heart failure. Witnesses said she was hit on the head.

Hasti Mofidi, an Iranian-American student at UC Berkeley, helped organize the protest.

“This is a very big milestone for our people, a big milestone for women’s rights in Iran.”

Mofidi said she thought she could have been in Amini’s shoes.

The crowd, a mix of young and old, spoke in English and Farsi.

Many were seen mourning for the young woman; angry at the regime for imposing compulsory head coverings on women in Iran and shutting down social media to quell protests that have erupted across Iran.

“Communication has been cut off, voices have been silenced. We are here to bring that voice back,” Mofidi said.

Many said they were inspired by Iranian women and their supporters who have since taken to the streets in Iran, stripping off their hijabs and burning them.

Dozens of people have been killed during the protests.

“Certainly worried about our family and friends there, but at the same time everyone is proud. We are all proud of our women, and we are all proud of our new generation who are so brave,” said Hossein Falaki of Lafayette.

“I am very proud of Iranian women because I grew up in Iran. They are so brave that they take off their headscarves in front of the troops,” said Afsoon, a protester.

There was a sense of frustration and a deep desire for change in the country which has been ruled by religious leaders since the revolution a generation ago.

“25 years ago it might have touched just a few people, a few families, a few lives. Now there’s no reason the whole world shouldn’t know about it and social media allows people to get angry and express their anger more easily,” said Darius Fatemi of Hayward.

There was sadness, but a mixture of hope for change.

“It’s also at the same time exciting to see that people have had enough, that they are mobilizing not only in Iran, but all over the world, the whole diaspora is affected by this,” Fatemi said.

Another solidarity demonstration is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at San Francisco City Hall. At 11 a.m. Sunday, protesters plan to form a human chain across the Golden Gate Bridge.