Global outrage over Iran’s morality police reaches UCLA community
Protests have erupted in Iran and spread across the world in response to the killing of Mahsa Amini by the Iranian morality police, including some in Los Angeles (pictured). (Ethan Manafi/Daily Bruin staff)
Oct. 13, 2022 11:43 p.m.
This post was updated Oct. 14 at 12:20 a.m.
UCLA community members have taken part in a movement across the world in response to the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in September.
Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s morality police on Sept. 16 after allegedly incorrectly wearing a head covering and violating Iran’s dress code, according to Time. The morality police, which has operated since the 1990s, monitors Iranians and detains those not in standard adherence to the government’s interpretation of clothing laws, said Kimia, a behavioral neuroscience doctoral student and member of the Iranian Graduate and Professional Association at UCLA who wished to remain partially anonymous for safety reasons.
Both Kimia and Melika, a mechanical engineering doctoral student and member of IGPA who also wished to remain partially anonymous, said they personally have been taken into custody by the morality police for very slight violations of the dress code.
“This is being referred to as a movement led by women, which I can confidently say is unprecedented in the region,” Kimia said.
Since Amini’s death, protests have erupted in Iran, becoming the largest since the revolution in 1979, and around the world to speak out for women’s rights and against poor treatment of women regarding their dress.
On Sept. 22, the Iranian Student Group at UCLA organized a vigil where more than a hundred people gathered in honor of Amini. Future protests are being planned, Kimia said.
Kimia said she feels angry and sad but feels hope from the protests amplifying Iranian women’s voices, adding many people in Iran are following dress code during protests, though some women are taking off their hijabs in defiance of the government.
“We are not anti-hijab, we are not Islamophobic and no one in Iran is either, everyone is just literally fighting for women’s rights to choose,” Kimia said. “And I think that’s also a fight everywhere in the world.”
The Iranian government has shut off access to the internet for many Iranians, said a doctoral student, making it harder for reliable information about human rights violations to spread. They said around 200 people have died during the protests, though the exact number is unknown because of a lack of reliable lines of communication. They have been given full anonymity out of concerns for safety.
The United States government has already placed sanctions on Iran, and the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has also given seven high-ranking Iranian officials financial penalties, according to AP News.
The doctoral student said they wish other countries’ governments, such as the U.S., would cease engagement with the Iranian government, which has perpetuated oppressive violence.
Kimia said Iranians currently away from home have been sharing media coverage of the protests on social media. The doctoral student said they wished it was covered more heavily by major outlets.
Melika said she hopes UCLA community members will educate themselves on the Iranian government’s actions and that faculty and staff will be empathetic toward Iranian students. Kimia added students – including members of ISG – are trying to amplify the perspectives of Iranians at home through Twitter and organizing.
“I can tell you with confidence that a lot of us, especially us that have lived most of our lives in Iran, for the past two weeks, none of our lives have been the same,” Kimia said. “Our hearts are so so so sad, but there is a glimpse of hope.”