Abbotsford woman leads social media charge for Iranian protests – Agassiz Harrison Observer
A little over two years ago, Sharareh H. of Abbotsford visited her hometown of Masshad, Iran.
Traveling with her father, Sharareh attempted to enter a local college with him, but was refused entry for wearing what she was told was an inappropriate hijab. She had several loose strands of hair and was not considered fully covered.
Sharareh wanted to say something, but her father urged her to be quiet for her own safety.
For the next hour, Sharareh waited outside while her father went about his business at the university.
Sharareh, who considers herself to be very opinionated, was unhappy with the way she was treated.
“I was disgusted,” she said. “Disgusted with how he felt in control and had the power to dominate where I go and what I do. I’ll never forget.”
But now, with her home country in turmoil after a woman refused to follow orders, Sharareh feels lucky. A different decision, a wrong word or an act of disobedience and it could have been his victim, or worse.
The name Mahsa Amini has turned into a hashtag on social media and has been chanted on streets around the world. The 22-year-old Iranian woman died on September 16 after being arrested by the country’s vice police in the capital, Tehran, for wearing inappropriate attire. The police were accused of beating her and causing her a fatal head injury.
Protests spread across the country within hours of his death in hospital, and the government responded with regional cuts to internet access. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the widespread unrest a riot and claimed it was part of a foreign plot to hurt Iran.
According to Iran Human Rights, more than 200 people have been killed as a result of government intervention in the protests, with much of the world condemning the Iranian response.
The protests have spread across the world, including regular rallies in Vancouver. Justin Trudeau said on October 11, the International Day of the Girl Child, that Canada stands with those who are protesting and that Canada has imposed sanctions on Iran because of the country’s actions.
“This year’s theme, ‘Our time is now – our rights, our future’, is particularly timely as women, girls and students in Iran bravely stand up against the oppressive Iranian regime,” he said. declared. “They have the right to live their lives, to make their own choices and to express themselves peacefully. We are on their side. »
Sharareh, who works in downtown Abbotsford, also accompanies them from afar. She has regularly attended rallies in Vancouver, and her Instagram account has turned into a platform for protests and a way for people to seek out information about what is happening in Iran. Her whole family is still in the country and she said it was hard to watch from so far away.
“This question is deeply personal to me,” she said. “It’s in every atom of my body and since it all started I haven’t had a normal life.”
Sharareh and her family moved to Canada in 2005 and she arrived here when she was 16 years old. She has always been aware of the challenges and oppression women and minorities face in the country, she said.
“For 43 years, many Iranian women and ethnic and religious minorities have been oppressed,” she said. “My background is being a country woman – I have to cover my hair and the morality police control how women have to dress and how things have to look in public. So that’s been something that I’ve always carried in terms of oppression. But you also realize all the culture, heritage, history and flavor of the country, it’s a beautiful country. It’s a contradictory feeling to be raised in Iran.
Her parents lived through the 1979 Iranian Revolution which brought about many changes and Sharareh believes there is a lot of trauma associated with this period. However, she noted that Iran is now a young country with 75% of the population under the age of 30. Sharareh said this generation wants change.
She said a notable moment happened when she was 13 and wanted to take her swimming career to the next level. But her father told her that was not possible as girls cannot compete in sports at the national level.
“I just thought, why the hell not,” she said. “But my parents knew early on – they had two daughters and that was one of the main reasons they wanted to come to Canada, so we could have more of a future.”
Sharareh noted that everything from sports to education to job opportunities are either limited or non-existent for women. They also need their husband or father to sign for them if they want to travel, and custody of the children almost always goes to the father. She said Canada is not perfect at all, but it has given her freedoms that she could never receive as a woman in Iran.
She also said the protests are not anti-religious but pro-human rights. Sharareh said she was encouraged and overwhelmed by the support in Vancouver and across Canada for the protests and prayed for a positive outcome. She also never believed that her social networks would become a beacon for freedom.
“We want to imagine a different reality, a different world that is not defined by guns, but by solidarity,” she said. “So what I want to see is that people achieve solidarity, that they can live a life where they can make choices for themselves and that religion does not seek to control and oppress people “Even though we are physically separated, we are pretty much the same. I want to shine a light on Iran and continue to use their critical thinking to better understand these international issues.”
For more, visit Sharareh’s Instagram page at instagram.com/sharareh.hamed.