How SLU students can show solidarity to the Iran crisis

On Saturday, Feb. 11, Iran celebrated the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The 1978 uprising toppled the existing Iranian monarchy and created the Islamic Republic. Iranian citizens marched through the streets carrying flags and posters with slogans of religious and revolutionary statements. 

The anniversary echoes the recent political unrest the country has experienced since early Sept. Protests erupted following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who was detained by the country’s morality police. Protests lasted for months and human rights groups have estimated that nearly 20,000 protestors have been jailed and 527 have been killed during the government’s attempts to silence the protests.

Matthew Nanes, a professor of political science at SLU, explained that it would be difficult for permanent change to take place unless Iranian allies were to step up and publicly back the protests in Iran. 

“A failed protest emboldens the government,” Nanes said, emphasizing that the time to take action is now. He suggests that in order to make a difference, community members must speak out, while keeping the protests in Iran dominating the media cycle. 

Nanes says that “the people who are protesting are just like us” – they want everyday freedoms that people in the United States have. This is especially true for women who are held to very strict standards under Iranian law, requiring them to wear hijabs at all times in public. 

Nanes says that finding a way to support those around you is as key for students as it is likely everyone on campus knows someone who has been affected by the protests. 

Overall, the reaction to the ongoing crisis on SLU’s campus has been relatively mild. “I’m concerned that there isn’t more discussion about this on campus and in the international media. The coverage on Iran is basically zero at this point,” Nanes said.  

Some students, though, feel the impact of the events every day. Roseanne Germani, a senior at SLU, says that learning of the events through the media has been difficult. Initially, the news of the protests felt bittersweet. “As an Iranian-American, my feelings were a mix of hope and sadness. The news of continual protest brings me hope that the current regime will fall and the people will be free after over 40 years of oppression,” Germani said. 

As the protests continued, though, Germani felt the events on a personal level.

 “On the other hand, watching children as young as nine years old being murdered at the hands of the government breaks my heart,” Germani said. 

Additionally, the SLU community must educate themselves on the crisis, whether they are directly impacted or not, Germani said.

 “I wish SLU students understood that the people of Iran are fighting for basic human rights and to get their country back. It’s important to understand that the people are separate from the fundamentalist government currently in power,” Germani said. 

Germani is not the only student speaking out for Iranian citizens and students. 

Last semester, students gathered at the clocktower to show their support for students protesting the Iranian government’s regime. The event was hosted in conjunction with a call-in advocacy day in support of House Concurrent 110 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 47. These bills are official acts  “commending the bravery, courage and resolve of the women and men of Iran demonstrating in more than 80 cities and risking their safety to speak out against the Iranian government’s human rights abuses.”

According to Nanes, other countries supporting the protests and revolutions could turn the tides in favor of the citizens. 

On a local level, however, there are ways SLU students can help. 

“Educating ourselves on what is happening in Iran is key. The Iranian government needs to be held accountable by the international community, and we can do this by spreading the news about the terrible things that they are doing,” Germani said. 

Nanes echoes a similar sentiment and says the protestors differ in their exact goals but share a common theme of freedom.  

Germani and other students continue to watch as the events unfold across the globe with hope that permanent change can come from the revolution. 

“Iran is a highly educated country with a beautiful history and culture. My hope is that the outcome of this revolution is such that the hundreds of innocent lives lost were not for nothing” Germani concludes.