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Journal of Middle Eastern Politics & Policy

Topic / Advocacy and Social Movements

Iran and its Discontents: Revolutionary Women and Minorities in 2022

On September 16, 2022, the death of Mahsa Jina Amini ignited protests across Iran under the banner of “woman, life, freedom.” Initially, Amini was arrested for violating the mandatory dress code in which women are legally required to cover their hair. She died in government custody, leading her family and countless Iranians to allege that she was beaten.[1]

What became known as the “hijab protests” quickly morphed to encompass wider social and political demands, including calls for the wholesale overthrow of the system that routinely intrudes into the daily lives of Iranians. For months after her death, segments of Iranian society leveled ideological attacks against the government to delegitimize Iran’s polity as a whole. That is, they did not merely demand that the perpetrators of Amini’s death be brought to justice but held the entire system responsible. Activists have been met with government repression, including internet blackouts, a dragnet that has ensnared approximately 20,000 people, and the death of 522 people, of whom 70 were children.[2] An additional 110 face execution.[3] 61 security personnel have also been killed in clashes with protesters.[4] Despite the crackdown, protesters have demonstrated such totalizing opposition in numerous ways, most notably by wielding the hijab–the Islamic veil–in counterintuitive ways that subverted the state.

The Hijab as an Object of Contestation

The hijab has long been a topic of political contestation in modern Iran. During the rule of Reza Shah (r. 1921-41), the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty outlawed women from wearing the hijab in public. Reza Shah saw Mustafa Kemal in neighboring Türkiye as his model, and Kemal sought to modernize Türkiye through a Western mode of modernization. Among many other undertakings, enforcing Western-style dress codes on men and women was an integral part of his vision for the emerging republic. While maintaining the royalist system, Reza Shah nonetheless pursued many such Kemalist reforms. His son, Mohammad Reza, followed in his father’s footsteps but lacked his father’s strong will. Whereas his father was a towering military figure and statesman, the son ascended the Peacock Throne with the permission of the Allied Powers after they dethroned the elder Pahlavi, occupied Iran, and used the country as a conduit of Western arms and supplies to buttress the Soviet war effort after the Nazi invasion in 1941. Tellingly, when the leadership of the Allied Powers, Frank D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill, met in Iran for the Tehran Conference to discuss wartime strategy in 1943, the 24-year-old Shah was not invited.

Young and inexperienced, he sought to placate various interest groups in the country to establish his authority. For instance, he removed his father’s prohibition on the hijab to garner favor with the clerical establishment, which had reeled under the heavy boot of his father’s rule. The Shah’s grip on power was not as absolute as his father’s, and a nationalist leader in the form of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq emerged in the 1950s to nationalize Iran’s oil industry in order to gain sovereignty over the country’s political, economic, and natural resources, which was to the detriment of the foremost imperial power subjugating the country, Great Britain. After more than two years of international crisis, the British, alongside the American CIA–which used the US embassy in Tehran as a base of operations–overthrew Iran’s democratically-elected government and installed the Shah as the autocratic head of state. That the CIA had to establish the SAVAK, the Shah’s notorious secret police, and train its personnel in Nazi torture techniques,[5] illustrates the lack of legitimacy from which he suffered after the coup; Iranians knew that the Shah had reached the pinnacle of power, not by popular mandate but a foreign conspiracy, and he needed a fearsome secret police to protect his throne from his own people.

The backlash against the secular Shah evolved over the next two and half decades to take on an Islamist mode of opposition. Many women began wearing the hijab out of piety and in opposition to the head of state that was seen as a puppet of Western interests. Many donned the hijab to express their solidarity with the leader of the opposition, Ayatollah Khomeini, a revolutionary Islamist cleric. In other words, such activist women wore their politics on their sleeves in the run-up to the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah and ushered in the modern world’s first Islamic theocracy. Incidentally, that many such women voluntarily garbed the veil in support of the revolution made it easier for Khomeini to eventually mandate the veil for all Iranian women–regardless of their religion or piety. The male-dominated state aspired to foster an alternative form of modernity–one that was Islamically authentic–and sought to rebuild the country more along moral lines that contrasted with the decadence of the Shah. It is important to note that while the hijab is an attire specific to a woman’s body and their modesty, powerful men before and after the revolution decided as a matter of politics whether women must abandon or wear it.

The mandating of the hijab after the 1979 revolution resulted in various realities. For some, requiring girls and women to wear the hijab meant access to upward mobility. Whereas before, conservative families viewed schools as godless dens of vice in which daughters’ attendance could potentially result in a violation of the family’s honor, the Islamization of the education system, which included teachers and pupils of the same sex being paired together in classrooms and the requirement that girls and women must veil, enabled such families to send their girls to school to obtain an education.[6] Such expanded access to girls and women from more conservative families dramatically increased female literacy.[7] This had unintended consequences as many such educated women gained greater access to a globally connected world, raising their political consciousness and expectations as well as enabling them to see the root causes of many of the country’s social and political ills. For families who did not have to contend with such religious roadblocks and already had access to education before the revolution, the imposition of the hijab was onerous.

It was also burdensome to many raised under the authority of the Islamic Republic to be told what to wear, with whom to interact, what career paths were possible and impossible, which car to use in the metro, and much more. These gender-specific limitations intertwined with political controls, such as how unelected clerical bodies within the polity strangle and control its increasingly powerless elected institutions. Consequently, many women objected to these controls by making the mandating of the hijab the symbol of the state’s intrusion and political stranglehold that made changing the system from within virtually impossible. In the decades since wearing the hijab became a matter of law, increasing numbers of women have registered their disdain for the system through the “politics of presence,” not necessarily protesting outright, which is a risk in Iran’s repressive political climate, but by registering their opposition seemingly passively through their appearances, from how much hair they show to the colorfulness of their head coverings.[8] In 2022, when Amini died in government custody after being arrested for “improperly” wearing the hijab, the bottled-up animosity of many women exploded onto the streets.

Many activist women and girls outright used their mandated attire in public displays of resistance against the state that enforced such draconian dress codes. If the hijab had become “the emblem of the Islamic Republic”[9] and its authority over half its citizens, then activists re-purposed that “emblem” to attack the governing system. Specifically, they attended protests with their hair intentionally uncovered or took off their veils and waved them over their heads as if their removed veils had been transformed into flags of liberation not to be worn as required by the government but to be raised in defiance of the authorities.[10] More to the point, many took turns throwing their veils in spontaneous street bonfires as onlookers cheered.[11] In doing so, they were not necessarily burning their headscarves as a matter of refuting their faith–though some may have done so to express that very sentiment as well–but as a matter of putting to flames the government’s authority not just over their lives and bodies, but over the entire country. In sum, if donning the hijab outwardly displayed many women’s support for the Islamic Revolution as it unfolded in 1978-79, then women burning the hijab displayed one’s support for the growing resistance, especially female resistance, to the state in 2022.

Given journalism in Iran is heavily restricted,[12] the global community and international media relied on citizen journalism to document and film events as they transpired on the ground in real-time. Such videos and photos demonstrate mundane everyday undertakings imbued with revolutionary defiance, such as non-familial men and women violating the state’s Islamic laws by being together in public, a young woman, Donya Rad, who enjoyed a meal in a coffee house while her head was intentionally uncovered,[13] or dancing and embracing in the streets—all of which are illegal under the Islamic Republic, and elementary school girls subversively removing photos of the state’s founder and his successor, Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei, off the classroom walls. Videos have also emerged of Iranian youth walking beyond clergymen and knocking off the turbans from their heads to both humiliate the clergy to dissent against clerical rule and potentially register their opposition to clerical-led Islam.[14]

Women and Revolution in Modern Iran

For many outside observers, women being at the forefront of resistance to the Iranian government comes as a surprise. The Orientalist trope is that women in Muslim-majority countries are servile, secluded, quiet, oppressed, and objects of desire. Protesting the mandatory hijab, then, is often seen through this prism–women breaking the shackles of the Islamic faith by seeking a Western mode of freedom rooted in secularism. Interpreting the protests to affirm Islamophobia, as one observer put it, can also have dangerous consequences:

“‘Sometimes people and government officials in the West can easily use the scenes of women burning hijabs to feed their Islamophobia and sense of civilizational superiority over the Middle East as well as to find justification for devastating Western policies in the region, past and present,’ which include hijab bans in other so-called democracies like the European Union and/or India.”[15]

A closer look at modern Iranian history dispels the Orientalist trope. Indeed, women have long played a salient role in both modern Iranian history and the wider Islamic history. For instance, the first to profess belief in Muhammad’s message was a powerful merchant woman, Khadijah. The first martyr who was tortured to death for not recanting belief in Islam was a woman named Sumayyah.

In terms of modern Iranian history, pious and secular Muslim and non-Muslim Iranian women have long been central agents of history-making. In the 19th century, Qurrat al-Ayn was a seminal figure in the Babi revolts. In the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11, women donated jewelry, often their only tangible assets, to help create a national bank to stave off imperialist intervention.[16] In the 1970s, women guerrillas took up arms and died fighting against monarchical despotism.[17] In 2009, the Green Uprising–the largest anti-state upheaval in Iran since 1979–had not a poster boy but a young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, whose violent death was captured on film and relayed around the world to become the most televised death in history.[18] In sum, Iranian women have long been an integral part of social movement activity in Iran, and the hijab with all its elasticity in terms of meaning and uses–as a symbol for revolution, liberation, access, modesty, morality, as well as control and oppression–has been an important component of the story of women’s struggles in Iran.

“Woman Life Freedom” – A Revolutionary Movement

While women have long been integral to revolutionary activity in Iran, women being at the forefront makes this uprising unique. Just as previous moments of contentious politics demonstrate, a closer look underscores other social fissures in Iranian society. For instance, the 2009 Green Movement was initially about election fraud, yet many used the cover of the post-election turmoil to come out against the state because of their own grievances that transcended the election. Likewise, from 2022 onward, many Iranians have used the cover and the space provided by protesting compulsory hijab to gather and air their particular grievances against the government.

For a more panoramic lens of the grievances that coupled with the anger over the mandatory hijab to swell and sustain the protests, a song emerged as the anthem of the protests to enumerate a list of grievances. Iranians tweeted various reasons for supporting the uprising using the hashtag “baraye,” or “for.” Shervin Hajipour, a then-relatively unknown pop singer in Iran, turned some of the tweets into lyrics for his song, “Baraye,” which he recorded at home and uploaded online.[19] The song went viral as many Iranians felt that it effectively captured their mood not only because they were the writers of the lyrics but also because of the melancholic yet impassioned way Hajipour voiced their lyrics. The tweets-turned-lyrics constitute the unofficial rallying cries of the protesters:

For dancing in the streets

For the fear when kissing

For my sister, your sister, our sisters

For changing the rotten minds

For the shame of poverty

For yearning for an ordinary life

For the dumpster diving boy and his dreams

For this planned economy

For this polluted air

For Valiasr street and its tired dying trees

For Piruz [a cheetah] that may go extinct

For innocent illegal dogs

For the incessant crying

For the scene of repeating this moment

For the smiling faces

For the students, for future

For this forced paradise

For the imprisoned intellectual elite

For the discriminated Afghan children

For each and every one of all of those “for”s

For all these empty slogans

For the houses in rubble, collapsing like a house of cards

For the feeling of peace

For the sun after these long nights

For anxiety and insomnia pills

For men, homeland, and prosperity

For the girl who wished to be a boy

For woman, life, freedom

For freedom

For freedom

For freedom[20]

Grievances indeed ranged from basic social and environmental issues to political and economic ones. The social issues entailed the prohibition of dancing on the streets and public displays of affection between unmarried and unrelated couples, the hardships LGBTQ+ people face, and the yearning for a normal life devoid of war, nuclear saber rattling, and the constant state of emergency resulting for acrimonious relations between Iran and the world’s foremost superpower, the United States. The economic issues encompass increasing poverty, lack of future prospects, and economic mismanagement. Political issues, inter alia, expressly invoked the imprisoning of intellectuals. Dying trees, pollution–especially in Tehran–abuse of dogs, which many consider impure in Islam, and the potential extinction of the Asiatic cheetah bring to the fore some of the environmental and animal rights issues that concern many Iranians. It is important to note that many of these grievances are rooted in the government’s failures, but unilateral US sanctions on Iran doubtless exacerbated such shortcomings.[21] Above all, the song begins and ends with girls, women, and freedom. Iranian women were the catalyst of these protests, but other aggrieved segments of Iranian society quickly entered their fray both in solidarity with Iranian women as well as because of their unique grievances.

Uplifting Marginalized Voices within “Woman, Life, Freedom”

The protest movement has been intersectional, bringing to the fore the calls that women, ethnic, religious, and sexual and gender minorities be treated as equals in a more equitable Iran. Unlike the Pahlavi shahs that prioritized a racialized system of rule–the Shah at the apex of power was “The Light of the Aryans”–the Islamic Republican system, in theory, has supplanted the racial system in favor of a religious one in which primacy is given to Shi’ite Muslims, but the state recognizes Sunni Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians as “People of Book” and are allocated seats in the parliament. Baháʼís are excluded from the system. One of the most heterogeneous countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, Iran is home to Persians–the majority–and such minorities as Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, Lors, Armenians, and more, with many minorities criticizing the state for systematic discrimination.


A monotheistic religion founded in Iran in the mid-19th century, the Baháʼí Faith is the largest religious minority in Iran and suffers the most persecution. While the Islamic Republic recognizes Islam’s preceding monotheistic faiths in its constitution, the Islamic clergy and the Islamic Republic view Baháʼís as heretics. As such, marriage–a religious matter–is not recognized by the state when it comes to Baháʼí unions. Furthermore, Baháʼís identified as such are prohibited from obtaining a higher education.

Prior to Amini’s death, between July and September, there were over 200 cases[22] of Baháʼí persecution, from unlawful arrests to house demolitions,[23] yet it is unclear if Baháʼís have been involved in the protests. The Baháʼí community in Iran has often been scapegoated in times of turmoil even though, based on their principles, they are not supposed to take part in any partisan activity in any country.[24] That the two core tenets of the Baha’i Faith are “non-interference in [partisan] politics” and “absolute obedience to the government” may explain why some Baháʼís may not be involved in the “hijab protests”–at least not in an obvious manner.[25]

While there is no clear link between Baháʼís and the protests, they witnessed a spike in their persecution for the latter half of 2022.[26] The Iranian state routinely sees its domestic challengers as agents of foreign conspiracy. That Baháʼís have long been accused and imprisoned for allegedly spying for foreign powers may explain why the government intensified its repression of Baháʼís as part of its wider crackdown against the protest movement.


Iranian Kurds predominate or have sizable communities in six of Iran’s 31 provinces in the northwest: Kordestan, Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan, Hamadan, Ilam, and Lorestan. Kurdish identity has been particularly salient in this movement. Discussions of the erasure of Kurdish identity rose to the forefront in regard to the lack of recognition for the movement’s slogan of “woman, life, freedom” being a Kurdish slogan (“jin, jiyan, azadi” originating in the 1980s).[27] Furthermore, Amini’s identity as a Kurdish woman has been a central part of the conversation around a future Iran that views Kurds and other ethnic groups as equals not just in theory but in practice, especially as it relates to autonomy and being free to run their schools in their native languages. While Amini’s death had more to do with her gender and attire than her Kurdish heritage, Iranian Kurds in her hometown of Saqqez intertwined their anger at having one of their own murdered by the state with long-simmering disdain for the central government. That Mohammad Mehdi Karami, a Kurdish Iranian, was executed for his involvement in the protests under charges of “war against God” and “corruption on earth through crimes against internal security”[28] exemplifies the wider crackdown on restive Kurdish Iranians throughout the protests.

The Iranian state, both before and especially after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, has steadfastly opposed Kurdish autonomy–an opposition that erupted into a full-scale military confrontation between Kurdish rebels and the emerging Islamist state shortly after the revolution. That the Kurds were routed in the rebellion that led to the deaths of as many as 10,000[29] has since imbued many within the Iranian Kurdish community with a smoldering hatred of the Iranian government. Thus, the customary 40th day of mourning marking Amini’s death resulted in another moment of the protest movement’s intensification when approximately 10,000 mourners-turned-marchers from the predominantly Kurdish city of Saqqez came out against the state.[30]

The Baloch

Predominating in the country’s periphery in the southeast, the Baloch minority is an ethnoreligious group that follows Sunni Islam–the minority in sect in Iran–and has long accused the Islamic Republic of discrimination. Due to neglect and minimal integration by the central government, the Baloch people have faced poor socioeconomic conditions fueling greater tension between the state and the minority community.

Many Fridays after Amini’s death were moments of intensification when the Baloch harnessed the organizing capacity of Friday prayers to gather in the Grand Makki Mosque of Zahedan, the largest Sunni mosque in Iran. After prayers, they would emerge to protest the state. Things came to a head on Friday, September 30, when mosque-goers-turned-protesters intertwined their solidarity with the Mahsa Amini demonstrations with their anger over the rape of a 15-year-old Baloch girl at the hands of the local police commander to spark a showdown with security forces. While the details of what happened are disputed,[31] the end result was a staggering death toll of roughly 100 Baloch–the single largest loss of life since the protests began.[32] Consequently, continued Friday Mahsa Amini protests in Zahedan have taken on calls for justice and accountability for what came to be known as “Black Friday.”

LGBTQ+ Community

            Beyond the everyday social stigma and intolerance, much of the LGBTQ+ community has faced harassment, violence, and in some cases, death at the hands of the Islamic Republic. Iranian law criminalizes all sexual relations outside of legal marriage,[33]and same-sex unions are prohibited, and relations can be punishable by death.[34] The Iranian state and clergy’s outlook vis-a-vis the LGBTQ+ community can be encapsulated by the rhetoric of Iranian presidents. Former President Mohammad Khatami spoke at Harvard Kennedy School in 2006, stating that the death penalty is an appropriate response to “acts of homosexuality.”[35] A year later, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a Columbia University audience, “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country…we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you we have that.”[36] Counterintuitively, the government made Iran a hub for sexual reassignment surgery to ensure that “homosexuals” could transition to “heterosexuals.”[37] The legality and subsidizing of transitioning as a solution to the “problem” of “homosexuality” is yet another example of the discrimination and erasure of the “phenomenon” of the broader queer community.

LGBTQ+ inclusion has been another intersectional element of the “woman, life, freedom” movement–as voiced in Hajipour’s song when he uttered, “For the girl who wished to be a boy.” Moreover, weeks before Amini’s death, numerous advocacy organizations brought attention to the case of Zahra (Sareh) Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar, who were charged with “corruption on earth”–the same charge leveled at many detained activists in the “hijab protests”–and sentenced to death.[38] Their alleged crimes were “related to the women’s real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity” as well as Sedighi-Hamadani’s “peaceful LGBTI rights activism” and “promoting homosexuality.”[39] These highly-publicized cases, among others, underscored the LGBTQ+ struggle for rights early on in the movement.

Conclusion: History as Prologue

From the Tobacco Revolt of 1890-92 to the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution, most revolutionary movements in Iran sought economic and political sovereignty with the wider goal of obtaining Iran’s independence–first from Czarist Russia and the British Empire in the early 20th century and then the US after 1953 overthrow of Mossadeq’s democratically-elected government. In the Islamic Revolution, Iranians rallied under the banner of “Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic,” achieving independence and establishing an Islamic Republic. It has grown increasingly clear to generations of Iranians that after more than four decades of the Islamic Republic, freedom has yet to be achieved. More to the point, many believe that the Islamic Republic is the barrier that must be surmounted to obtain that very freedom. As such, from the free speech protests of 2003[40] and Green Uprisings in 2009[41] to the protests in late 2017 into early 2018 and the deadly November 2019 revolt, both of which were sparked by economic grievances but quickly morphed into anti-government uprisings, Iranians continue to pass the baton of struggle to the next generation seeking freedom. That girls, women, and ethnic and religious minorities are now at the forefront of the struggle should come as no surprise–the marginalized often become incubators of revolution.

[1] In response to widespread allegations that Amini was beaten to death, the government published a video of her in a detention hall where she approached a female guard and had a seemingly heated discussion, after which she collapsed. The footage then shows her being taken to a hospital. She died after being in a three-day coma. In publishing the video, the government claimed that she died of a pre-existing condition unrelated to her arrest. Her father retorted that she had no such pre-existing condition, and that the video was edited to exclude crucial footage that underscored her handling at the time of arrest and transportation to the detention facility. “Mahsa Amini’s Father: ‘My daughter had no pre-existing condition, her legs were bruised, the footage they showed us was edited…’, 18 September 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[2] HRANA English (Human Rights Activist News Agency). “Daily Statistics on Iran Protests For details and more statistics, read HRANA’s report:” Twitter, 14 January, 2023, Accessed 8 March 2023.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “A Comprehensive Report of the First 82 Days of Nationwide Protests in Iran.” Human Rights Activist News Agency, 8 December 2022, Accessed 8 March 2023.

[5] ​​McCoy, Alfred. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. New York, Owl Books, 2006, pp. 74.

[6] ​​Mehran, Golnar. “Social Implications of Literacy in Iran.” Comparative Education Review, Vol. 36, No. 2, May, 1992, pp. 194-195.

[7] ​​Shams, Alex. “Revolutionary Religiosity and Women’s Access to Higher Education in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. Vol. 12, Iss. 1, Mar., 2016, pp. 129.

[8] ​​Bayat, Asef. Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007, pp. 64.

[9] Moghissi, Haideh. “Islamic Cultural Nationalism and Gender Politics in Iran.” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2008, pp. 546.

[10] Unika. “With and Without the Hijab in Iran. Lionesses Remove their Hijab in Tehran.” Youtube, 19 September 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[11] India Today. “​​Women In Iran Burn Their Headscarves As Protests Over Hijab Intensify #shorts #iranprotests.” Youtube, 22 September 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[12] The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that the Iranian government has arrested “at least 88” journalists since the uprising began, accusing the detained of “spreading propaganda against the ruling system” and “colluding and acting against national security.” “Iranian journalists face long prison terms, lashes, and harsh restrictions over protest coverage.” The Committee to Protect Journalists, 11 January 2023, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[13] Donya Rad intentionally had a meal while uncovered, had a picture taken of herself while committing the revolutionary mundane act, and published it on her social media, which went viral and resulted in her arrest. She was held in Evin Prison, Iran’s most notorious political prison, and was released on bail after an 11-day ordeal. “Donya Rad was released.”, 9 October 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[14] “The Arrest of a Young Women for Knocking Off a Turban.”, 22 November 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[15] Shadi Mokhtari quoted in Iftikhar, Arsalan. “Please Don’t Let Islamophobia Co-opt Hijab Protests.” The Bridge: A Georgetown University Initiative, 4 November 2022, Accessed 7 March 2023.

[16] Afary, Janet. The Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906-1911: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Origins of Feminism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, pp. 179.

[17] ​​Sometimes women guerrilla fighters outnumbered their male counterparts. In one militant cell in which three of the four Fada’iyan fighters that died in a shootout were women. Margaret P. Grafeld, Iran Tehran, to Secretary of State, April 4, 1977, Wikileaks,

[18] Mahr, Krista. “Top 10 Heroes: 2. Neda Agha-Soltan”. Time, 8 December 2009,,28804,1945379_1944701_1944705,00.html. Accessed 5 March 2023.

[19] Fassihi, Farnaz. “‘Baraye,’ the Anthem of Iran’s Protest Movement, Wins a Grammy.” The New York Times, 3 February 2023, Accessed 7 March 2023.

[20] There are many different translations to this song because there are many ways to translate the lyrics. As a result, the following three translations were considered in the context of our own Persian language skills: reza2003n. “‘Because of” or ‘Baraye.’”, 4 October 2022, Accessed 7 March 2023; Sanderlie. “Baraye – Shervin – English Translation.” Lyrics Letra, 4 October 2022, Accessed 7 March 2023; Bikar. “Baraya (English Translation).” Lyrics Translate, 28 September 2022, Accessed 7 March 2023.

[21] The UN notes: “US sanctions on Iran are resulting in harm to the country’s environment and preventing everyone there – including migrants and Afghan refugees – from fully enjoying their rights to health and life, and contributing to other factors such as rising air pollution…” “Iran: US sanctions violating human rights of all living there, say UN experts.” UN News Global Perspective Human Stories. 20 December 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[22] “More Baha’is arrested in Iran as month-long crackdown total hits 245.” Baha’i International Community Representative Offices. 1 September 2022, Accessed 6 March 2023.

[23] “200 Government agents destroy Baha’i homes and confiscate 20 hectares of land.” Baha’i International Community Representative Offices. 2 August 2022, Accessed 6 March 2023.

[24] Interview with Bani Dugal. Interview by Ciara Moezidis. Virtual. 1 March 2023.

[25] Chamankhah, Leila. “A Minority Within a Majority: the Baha’i Principle of Non-Interference in Politics Is Revisited.” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 38 (1), (2014), 22-40.

[26] Interview with Bani Dugal.

[27]Bodette, Meghan. “‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadi’ is not a hashtag.” Progressive International. 14 October 2022. Accessed 8 March 2023.

[28] “The Death Sentences of Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were Carried Out.” Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, 7 January 2023, Accessed 7 March 2023.

[29] Ward. Steven R. Immortal: A Military History of Iran and its Armed Forces. Washington D.C., Georgetown University Press, 2009, pp. 231-233.

[30] Hadian, Hamed. “Scattered Clashes of Some Protesters at Saqqez/The People Prevented Protester Attacks.” ISNA, 26 October 2022, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[31] The opposition alleged that the security forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, while the state alleges that Baloch gunmen interspersed among protesters and opened fire on security forces, which resulted in running gun battles throughout the city. The semi-official Fars News Agency also disputes the death toll by noting that 19 people and five members of the security forces were killed. “Details of the Zahedan terrorist attack/How did the Black Friday clashes begin?” Fars News, 3 October 2022, Accessed 9 March 2023.

[32] “Iran: ‘Bloody Friday’ Crackdown This Year’s Deadliest.” Human Rights Watch, 22 December 2022, Accessed 8 March 2023.

[33] Examples of “legal marriages” include permanent and temporary marriages between a man and a woman, and marriages between a man and multiple women (polygyny). Women are disallowed from having more than one husband at once.

[34] “Iran: Discrimination and Violence Against Sexual Minorities.” Human Rights Watch, 15 December 2022, Accessed 8 March 2023.

[35] “Khatami Slams ‘Imperial’ U.S.” The Harvard Crimson, 11 September 2006, Accessed 8 March 2023.

[36] Goldman, Russell. “Ahmadinejad: No Gays, No Oppression of Women in Iran.” ABC News, 9 February 2009, Accessed 7 March 2023.

[37] Carter, B. J. “Removing the Offending Member: Iran and the Sex-Change or Die Option as the Alternative to the Death Sentencing of Homosexuals.” Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, 14, no. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 797.

[38] Iran: Death sentences for LGBTQI activists must be immediately overturned.” Article 19, 8 September 2022, Accessed 6 March 2023.

[39] Ibid.

[40] These protests began after a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War who was serving as a professor in 2002, objected to Iranians blindly following the clergy. His death sentence sparked free speech protests, especially across universities. Dareini, Ali Akbar. “Iran Students Continue Protests.” AP News, 13 November 2002, Accessed 5 March 2023.

[41] See Alimagham, Pouya. Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.