University students in Winnipeg host protest against Iranian regime

The University of Manitoba Iranian Students’ Association hosted a rally outside the Canadian Museum For Human Rights in Winnipeg on Saturday to protest the current Iranian government regime.

“This movement is not against Islam, this movement is not an Islamophobic movement,” said association president Pouya Farokhzad, who was involved in organizing the rally.

“We are against a regime that uses Islam to oppress people.”

At least 100 people attended Saturday’s rally, which coincided with a similar event in Berlin and rallies elsewhere in Canada and around the world.

The movement was sparked after the in-custody death of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who had been detained in Tehran for allegedly wearing her headscarf inappropriately. 

Head scarves for women in Iran — regardless of creed — have been mandatory as per the country’s strict dress code enforced since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In Berlin, nearly 40,000 people gathered turned out to show solidarity for the women and activists leading the movement for the past few weeks in Iran.

The protests in Germany’s capital, organized by the Woman* Life Freedom Collective, began at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.

Some demonstrators there said they had come from elsewhere in Germany and other European countries to show their support.

Iran’s nationwide anti-government protest movement first focused on the country’s mandatory hijab covering for women following Amini’s death on Sept. 16.

Saturday’s rally took place outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. (Donna Lee/CBC)

The demonstrations there have since transformed into the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement over disputed elections.

In Tehran on Saturday, more anti-government protests took place at several universities.

Members of the Iranian community in Manitoba have held a number of rallies against the Iranian regime in the weeks following Amini’s death.

“The thing that we are looking for is a regime change … basically every kind of human rights is under attack right now in Iran,” Farokhzad said.

University of Winnipeg student Ershiya Bagheri, who was also involved in organizing Saturday’s rally, recently moved to Canada from Iran and has been unable to communicate with friends and family back home as internet services have been disrupted.

Bagheri has found support in Winnipeg’s Iranian community, and by getting involved in local protests.

“I was feeling that Iranian diasporas need to do something so that the world outside Iran can also hear us and support us,” she said.

“I want to continue fighting so that everyone can hear the women of Iran.”

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