Protests in Iran: Videos leaked despite internet bans


Videos of riots and unrest began flooding the internet as Iranian protesters took to the streets in response to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was allegedly detained for wearing her hijab improperly.

Videos of students in Iran protesting against the militia, as well as women in the streets being kicked and kicked and protesters raising their fists as they marched have been widely shared around the world, demonstrating the country’s rage after Amini’s death.

« If we don’t unite, we will be killed one by one », is one of the phrases heard chanted during the demonstrations.

Attempts to shut down the internet to prevent the world from seeing these videos have failed, despite banning popular social apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Skype and even Instagram, one of the last functioning social media platforms.

In Iran, internet outages are common during times of unrest and protests. According to Amnesty International, the worst crackdown took place in 2019, when more than 100 protesters were killed and the internet was shut down for 12 days.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Israel, the country’s adversaries, of inciting unrest in his opening remarks on Monday’s nationwide protests. It’s a familiar tactic for Iran’s leaders, who have been wary of Western influence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

US tech companies will be allowed to expand their operations in Iran, the US Treasury Department said in September, which allows tech companies to offer more social media and collaboration platforms, video conferencing and cloud-based services, reported the Associated Press.

On Monday, US President Biden said in a statement that the United States was making it easier for Iranians to access the internet, « including facilitating greater access to secure outside platforms and services. »

Through these pathways, internet access means images and videos are surfacing from Iran despite social media blackouts and bans.

Videos showed some of the Iranian protesters publicly cutting strands of hair during the protests, a move that quickly spread around the world.

Images of women elsewhere cutting their hair to show solidarity with Iranian women have gone viral – from Turkish singer Melek Mosso on stage last week, to women in Lebanon and Syria, to Swedish lawmaker Abir Al-Sahlani in the corridors of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

A museum in Rome collects locks of hair to present to the Iranian embassy.

This highly symbolic gesture also echoes Iranian history and folklore in which, for women, cutting their hair is a sign of protest. The Shahnameh (« The Book of Kings »), a national epic of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between 977 and 1010 AD, refers to a princess cutting her hair in protest against the death of her husband considered unjust.

Oscar-winning actors Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche, along with other French film and music stars, filmed themselves cutting locks of their hair in a video released Wednesday.

« For freedom, » Binoche said as he cut off a large handful of hair on the top of his head with a pair of scissors, before holding it up in front of the camera.

With files from The Associated Press and CNN


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