Videos of protests in Iran leak despite internet bans
Videos of revolts and unrest started to flood the internet when Iranian protestors flocked to the streets in response to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman allegedly detained for wearing her hijab improperly.
Videos of students in Iran protesting militia, along with women on the streets being kicked and pushed and demonstrators raising their fists as they march have been circulated widely around the world, demonstrating the country’s rage following Amini’s death.
“If we don’t join together, we will be killed one by one,” is one of the phrases heard being chanted during the protests.
Attempts to shut down the internet to stop the world from seeing these videos have failed, despite the prohibition of popular social apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Skype and even Instagram—one of the last functional social media platforms.
In Iran, internet outages are common during times of turmoil and protest. According to Amnesty International, the worst crackdown occurred in 2019, when more than 100 demonstrators were killed and the internet was shut down for 12 days.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the U.S. and Israel, the country's adversaries, for inciting the unrest in his first remarks on the nationwide protests on Monday. It's a familiar tactic for Iran's leaders, who have been mistrustful of Western influence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
American tech firms will be allowed to expand their business in Iran, the U.S. Treasury Department said in September, which authorizes tech firms to offer more social media and collaboration platforms, video conferencing and cloud-based services, the Associated Press reported.
On Monday, U.S. President Biden said in a statement that the U.S. was making it easier for Iranians to access the internet, “including through facilitating greater access to secure, outside platforms and services.”
Through such avenues, access to the internet means that images and videos are surfacing from Iran despite outages and social media bans.
Videos showed some of the Iranian demonstrators have publicly hacked off locks of hair at the protests, a gesture 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 halls of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
A museum in Rome is collecting locks of hair to present to the Iranian Embassy.
This highly symbolic gesture also echoes Iranian history and folklore in which for women to chop 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 A.D., refers to a princess chopping her hair to protest against the death of her husband seen as unfair.
Oscar-winning actors Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche, as well as other French screen and music stars, filmed themselves chopping off locks of their hair in a video posted Wednesday.
"For freedom," Binoche said as she hacked a large handful of hair off the top of her head with a pair of scissors, before brandishing it in front of the camera.
With files from The Associated Press and CNN