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Iranian students in Reno want to raise awareness of women’s rights in their country

Five women standing up behind a red mat on the floor. They are holding scissors and cutting their hair.
Courtesy of Maryam Goli
UNR students and community members gathered in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union to raise awareness of women’s rights in Iran on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Reno, Nev.

Mahsa Amini, 22, died in police custody after being detained and allegedly beaten in the head for wearing a loose hijab.

The agency responsible for Amini’s arrest is the Guidance Patrol, a unit of the Iranian police force, more widely known as the “morality police,” tasked with enforcing the laws on Islamic dress code in public. Since 1979, it’s been mandatory for Iranian women to cover their hair with a hijab, which must be worn in a manner acceptable to Islamic law.

The incident has sparked protests around the world, including in Reno, where more than two-dozen Iranian students and community members held a public intervention on Wednesday at the University of Nevada, Reno to raise awareness of women’s rights. Holding signs, they gathered in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union and handed out flyers.

Tayebeh Goli is a Ph.D. student at UNR. She says Amini’s death has helped the world to see what’s happening in Iran.

“For the first time, we are seeing everyone being in solidarity with Iranian women. I think it’s also nice to know for a small city like Reno to have this information being spread out to the students especially,” said Goli.

In a statement, UNR President Brian Sandoval expressed his support for Iranian students, faculty and staff, encouraging them to use the counseling services available on campus.

A sign that says “Justice for Iranian Women!” and “Help Iran” with a portrait of a young woman wearing a hijab.
Maria Palma
KUNR Public Radio
After the death of Mahsa Amini, communities around the world have spoken out against religious oppression in Iran through signs, videos and messages.

As videos exposing police brutality began to go viral on social media, the Iranian government cut off the Internet.

Orang Ghafary moved from Iran to the U.S. 10 years ago. He was there to support the students.

“I have lots of family in Iran. I can’t communicate with them; there are no phones working, no WhatsApp, no Telegram; the government cut everything. This is the time they cut everything because there are lots of people dying in the streets; they don’t want the world to know about this crime,” said Ghafary.

Whether it’s spreading the word or simply understanding the current situation, Ghafary and Goli want the rest of the world to know what’s happening in their country.

Editor’s note:​​ The views expressed in this article belong exclusively to the interviewees and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Iranian community in Reno or academic institutions as a whole.

Produced with assistance from thePublic Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.
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