Protestors in Tempe show support for Iranian women

Iranian government cuts off internet access for citizens
Hundreds gathered in Tempe on Friday to show support for Iranian women after the Iranian government shut off internet access to the rest of the world.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 10:13 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Iranian government shut off internet access to the rest of the world, and hundreds of Arizonans wanted to ensure their voices were heard during a protest Friday afternoon.

“You guys cannot even contact your family members in the west, but we’re going to be here, we’re going to be your voice,” said ASU Alum Leila Shahbazi. Shahbazi was born in Iran and moved to Arizona when she was 12-years-old. She says she remembers her mother’s mistreatment if she wasn’t wearing a hijab: “I would see those people would come up to me and they would harass.”

Shahbazi says the regime has gotten worse over the last decade. On Sept. 16, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being detained by morality police in Tehran for wearing her hijab improperly. “Hijab is not really cultural, it’s enforced in Iran,” Shahbazi said.

Amini’s death sparked outrage in the Middle East over strict dress codes for women. During Friday’s protest, hundreds of Arizonans chanted “say her name”, “Mahsa Amini,” on the ASU campus near University Drive to show their support.

Shahbazi says the law began during her parent’s generation. Nowadays, people are speaking out against the violence women have endured for expressing their right to choose. “It’s people who choose not to wear it who are forced and killed because they have to,” Shahbazi said.

Jared Howell, who also attended the protest, says he has been unable to talk to his fiancé, Mahsi, for days. “It’s very emotional because we talk everyday,” Howell said with tears. “She has actually attended a protest in Tehran and she was in fact injured running away when violence broke out.”

Howell says he protested to shed light on the violence in Iran and to spread the message that women should have the freedom to choose. “The government there can kill its own citizens and then cut off communication; and silence that story from getting out,” Howell said. “Just imagine the threat it proposes to other places too.”

The group will be holding another protest on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 5:30 on 452 E University Drive in Tempe.