Marketa Gregorova: Message of solidarity with Iran women

Sarhan Basem
Protestors take part during a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Brussels, Belgium on Sept. 23, 2022, following the death of Mahsa Amini.

Triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, who had flouted dress laws, the rising demands for freedom are being helped by the global community.

Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The wave of protests across Iran in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in hospital on 16 September having been arrested, and reportedly beaten, by Iran’s so-called “morality police” for flouting the country’s misogynistic dress laws. Since then, the protests have spread across Iran, calling for women’s rights and, increasingly, the end of the regime. In tandem with the protests on the ground, photographs and videos have flooded the internet, with the hashtag of Mahsa’s name in Persian becoming one of the most used in Twitter’s history.

At the forefront of the movement are Iran’s Gen Z, who are tech-savvy and hungry for change. But in the days that followed the start of the protests, the government blocked access to WhatsApp and Instagram and continues to limit access to the internet. Some inside the country are still able to access Instagram using VPN connections or the Tor anonymity network, but it has currently fallen largely to Iranians in the diaspora to keep the movement’s message of freedom and rights for women alive on Instagram.

The main slogan of the movement, the Persian “zan, zendegi, azadi”, or “women, life, freedom”, is a translation of a common Kurdish protest cry. Multidisciplinary artist Sahar Ghorishi wanted to draw attention to the centrality of women in this movement, but also to express Mahsa Amini’s Kurdish ethnicity. In addition to using elements of the Kurdish flag, Ghorisi – who has Kurdish heritage but now lives in New York – calls Amini by her Kurdish name, Zhina.

Marketa Gregorova MEP


In Iranian culture, women have historically cut their hair off in mourning, and over the past week, we have seen videos of women snipping their locks at the funerals of loved ones killed by security forces. The act has also become a symbol of bodily autonomy and resistance against the oppressive regime.

On this topic, Brussels Morning talked to EU MEP Marketa Gregorova. She stated that she observes with deep admiration the breathtaking courage with which Iranian women stand these days against the dictatorship of Khomeini and his “morality police”.

“The message of the Iranian protests is universal and resonates across the world. It is heard by women in Poland and the US, who are denied the right to their own bodies. It is heard by women in Italy, where ultra-conservative forces are coming to power. It is heard by women everywhere, where the same obscurants under different symbols wait for the nearest opportunity to trap free women into predetermined roles. Today, we show everyone that we also heard Iranian women and that we, as the European Parliament, stand with you.” said the MEP.

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Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.