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Students mourn Mahsa Amini at vigil, stand with Iranian protesters

University of Minnesota students and community members held a vigil on campus for Amini following her death after Iran’s morality police arrested her, remembering her life and protesting the Islamic regime.
Image by Maya Marchel Hoff
Students and community members gathered by Coffman Union to remember Mahsa Amini.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the anonymity of a source due to concerns for personal safety. 

Following protests in Iran, University of Minnesota students and community members gathered in front of Coffman Union on Sept. 22 to mourn the death of a 22-year-old woman and denounce the Islamic regime in Iran’s brutality toward its citizens.

Mahsa Amini, also known as Jina Amini, died on Sept. 16 after Iran’s morality police arrested her for a dress code violation in Tehran. Iranian authorities claimed Amini had a stroke while in custody and died three days later in a hospital.

A medical professional from a southern province of Iran rejected authorities’ claims and instead stated that a blow to the head was likely Amini’s cause of death, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a media company funded by the U.S. government. Protests broke out in Iran in response to Amini’s death, and as of Sept. 30, at least 52 people have been killed, according to Amnesty International.

Organized by the Persian Student Organization of Minnesota (PSOM), the vigil offered a space for people to remember Amini as well as a platform to stand with protesters in Iran to oppose the Islamic regime’s treatment of citizens. People gathered around a poster surrounded by flowers and candles that stated “Justice for Mahsa.”

“The Islamic Republic has been silencing, murdering, arresting and discriminating against human rights of the Iranian people for a very long time,” Faraz Samavat, a University graduate student, said in an interview after the vigil. “Usually what happens is that it doesn’t get very much media coverage from outside of Iran. That really helps the regime to suppress the voice, but now it’s a different case.”

Holding up a phone to a megaphone, organizers played Persian songs about unity and hope, including “Sharghi e Ghamgin,” which means “the sad easterner” in English by Fereydoun Farrokhzad. According to Samavat, the song is about maintaining hope in times of sadness by looking forward to a better future.

Organizers led attendees in chants used by protesters in Iran, including “women, life, freedom” and “death to the Islamic Republic.”

“We are here to show that we are against the brutality and the Islamic Regime,” Narges Majed, 26, said while addressing the vigil attendees. “Everytime something like this happens, we get more motivated to do something about it.”

In Iran, students are taking part in the protests in large numbers. In response, authorities are detaining many of them.

A University student, who requested anonymity due to concerns for personal safety, told vigil attendees about the detainment of her friend, who is a student in Iran. At the time of the vigil, her friend’s family did not know where he was, they said.

“It makes me sad that I can’t be with my people,” they said. “Even when we are so far away, we need to be united.”

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