Posted by Bloom in Crisis on behalf of Donya Feizbakhsh
It could’ve been me. The 22-year old girl in Iran who was walking down the street with her brother. It could’ve been me and my brother. She was following the rules, but strands of her hair got caught in the wind. The “Morality Police” showed up, took her, “explaining” that she needed to go to class to learn of her error. Instead, their class was them beating her into a coma. Her brother dying to find her, and she was dying. The only difference is that in 1975 my parents left Iran, so I’m in New York with my hair blowing in the September wind. She grew up in Iran and the wind in her hair killed her.
I think what hits hardest is the image I saw of a bloodied ten-year old girl, laying dead in the streets of Iran. She, at the age of ten, wanted to protest alongside the women of her country. The women who lived a beautiful, free and independent life before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The women who remember having a Queen instead of a dictator. The women who have heard stories of what Iran used to be. The girls who listen. The girls who wanted to do something about it. At ten years old, I was making up dances in my best friends basement. I was allowed to be a kid. Did I even know what a protest was? Did I even know that there were powers out there that could rip life from you? Did I see it? Did I experience it? Did you?
This uproar has been a long time coming. In so many ways it’s exhilarating. Finally, let’s stand up. As we have in America, we march to stand up for our freedoms. We’ve marched to protect our right to choose. We’ve marched to protect our right to vote. But, in Iran standing up means dying. There are women who put up their hair in a hair tie and run straight into the police crowds only to meet their death instantly. They know they will die but they show up. That is bravery. These women are dying to show the rest of the world that they matter and their government doesn’t think they do. They are the battle leaders and the lives lost. As a woman on this side of the globe, how can I show up?
There’s overwhelming guilt. It could’ve been me. I could’ve been in Iran. But in New York, as I look around me, I notice that no one’s life has changed. No one is rattled or distraught. On the opposite side of the world, a ten-year old girl lays among the pile of dead. Here, life goes on. It’s hard to stomach that this will likely amount to nothing. As much as I try to spread awareness, as exciting as it is to see the media cover Iran in this way, I know it’ll end. It’ll become old news and the women of Iran will die for it. It’ll pass and be forgotten. But that young girls mother will not forget. Mahsa Amini’s brother will not forget. I won’t forget.
Iran to me has always been beautiful. I was raised by parents who grew up in the beautiful times of Iran. When I visited frequently as a child, I was shown the beautiful mountains and remarkable caves, not the Mosques. I was shown the food and the people, not the religion. Iran is its people, not its leader. Trump was our leader, but he sure isn’t America. Iran is fighting back and we have a chance to help.
Internet has been cut off and Iranians are being isolated from the rest of the world. It’s my duty to spread this story and bring the worlds support behind Iranian women. Not because I’m Iranian, not because I’m a woman, but because I’m a human. This isn’t a religious issue, this is a human issue. Spread the word to as many as you can. Don’t let this story die. Enough have died already.