Last week, Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne adjourned a session of the West Hollywood City Council in the name of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who was murdered by that country’s “Morality Police.” When elected in 2020, Shyne herself became the first out LGBTQ Iranian elected anywhere in the world and the West Hollywood council’s first elected woman of color.

Women have been required to wear hijabs since the Islamic Revolution more than 40 years ago. The “Guidance Patrol,” as the morality police more formally known, was established in 2005 and given the charge of detaining women not wearing hijabs or not wearing them in accordance with state standards.

The morality police claimed Amini died of a heart attack after being taken into custody for not wearing a hijab while visiting family in Tehran. But reportedly, CT scans of Amini’s head show a traumatic brain hemorrhage, and eyewitnesses say they saw the policemen slamming her head onto the hood of their van before shoving her inside and beating her.

In the 11 days since the incident, protests have now spread to more than 150 Iranian cities, with some women seen burning their hijabs. Councilwoman Shyne also reported in her remarks closing the West Hollywood council meeting that in response, the Iranian government has tear-gassed protests, carried out beatings, pelted people with water cannons, and restricted internet access in the hope of preventing word of their crackdown from gaining additional international attention. Several more people have been killed, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down this inflection point for Iranians.

The question many Westsiders are asking, including our sizeable Persian population, is what can we do to help stand up for these women? There are things being recommended. Among them are four of our suggestions :

  • Donating to the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) Woman’s Committee. According to the NCRI Website, “The NCRI Women’s Committee works extensively with Iranian women outside the country and maintains permanent contact with women inside Iran. The Women’s Committee is actively involved with many women’s rights organizations, NGOs, and the Iranian diaspora.”
  • Donating to United for Iran, based in San Francisco. United for Iran, among their other works with scholars and democracy groups, publishes a popular phone app called “Gershad.” The app allows Iranians to alert women where morality police have based themselves at any point all over the country so they can be avoided.
  • Posting and forwarding on social media posts by Iranians who have been able to get around internet restrictions to report real-time happenings. Please magnify their voices
  • Calling and emailing your Congressional Represenative to ask them to publicly support the lifting of sanctions that are only making life for everyday Iranians more difficult and very expensive. The “Iran Deal” (JCPOA) negotiated by the Obama administration began to do this. However, the Trump administration not only reversed course but added draconian measures that were even more damaging for everyday Iranians. The oppressive regime in Iran feeds off of these sanctions to fan anti-U.S. sentiment and hold power

We don’t have to feel powerless to help. These are just four suggestions.

What are some additional ways you’ve heard we can all do our part to support Iranian women and the people of Iran in general? Please visit our social media channels and let us know!

Photo Credit to  mirsad sarajlic

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