Guest Speaker on Iran: Sunday, Feb. 19th #WomanLifeFreedom

On Sunday, February 19 at Noon in the Sanctuary, the Peace & Social Justice Committee will welcome Professor Ali Akbar Mahdi to UU Santa Monica to talk about the ongoing protest movement and struggle for women’s rights and human rights in Iran.

Last September, anti-government protests and large-scale civil unrest erupted in Iran with the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22 year-old woman who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s mandatory hijab law. Despite the government’s denial, eyewitnesses said that Amini had been severely beaten by the Guidance Patrol (morality police) because she had been wearing hijab “improperly” — not tightly enough to conceal her hair in its entirety.

Women and students (including young schoolchildren) have led much of the protest movement, which has demanded not only more rights for women but the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The uprising, which has spread throughout the country and continued for many months, has been called the “greatest challenge” to the hard-line, theocratic regime since it seized power in the 1979 revolution. 

The government of Iran has responded to the protests with violence, internet blackouts and executions: an estimated 488 people, including at least 64 youth, had been killed by the end of January. Meanwhile, demonstrations around the world have shown solidarity with the people of Iran by joining with them in their slogan and chant: “Woman, Life, Freedom!

Prof. Mahdi will talk about the current situation in Iran and where it is headed. We will have time for questions as well as a chance to discuss local actions of support and solidarity, and how you can help.

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More About our Guest

A professor emeritus from Ohio Wesleyan University, Ali Akbar Mahdi currently teaches sociology at California State University, Northridge. In addition to numerous articles and book reviews in academic journals, he is the author of “Sociology of the Iranian Family,” “Teen Life in the Middle East,” “Culture and Customs of Iran” (with E. L. Daniel), “Sociology in Iran” (With A. Lahsaeizadeh), “Resources for Teaching Sociology of Development and Women in Development,” and “Iranian Culture, Civil Society, and Concern for Democracy.”​​ He is regularly interviewed by Persian and English media discussing sociological aspects of the Middle Eastern and Islamic issues. 


Also: Support the Protest Movement on the Global Day of Dance for Freedom

Did you know that it’s against the law to dance in Iran? On February 10,  join the Global Day of Dance for Freedom, and in this small way support Iranians who are fighting for basic freedoms including their ability to dance without the fear of reprisals from the regime. There are now people from all seven continents connected in this protest and you can join as well. Make a short dance video and include the words “Women, Life, Freedom.”

(Contributed by Judith Martin-Straw and Jila Tayefehnowrooz)


More About the Current Iranian Uprising

Read: Iran’s Months-Long Protest Movement, Explained (Vox)

Watch: Videos from Vice News featuring eyewitness footage and reports from the protests all over Iran (content warning: violence and graphic content).