As demonstrations against the death of Mahsa Amini enter their third week in Iran, a protest song by one of Iran’s most popular musicians has become the soundtrack to the biggest civil uprising for decades, channelling the rage of Iranians at home and abroad.
The lyrics to Baraye by Shervin Hajipour are taken entirely from messages that Iranians have posted online about why they are protesting. Each begins with the word Baraye – meaning “For …” or “Because of …” in Farsi.
Hajipour released the song online last week and it quickly went viral, being viewed millions of times across various platforms. Videos show the song being sung by schoolgirls in Iran, blared from car windows in Tehran and played at solidarity protests in Washington, Strasbourg and London this weekend.
Hajipour, 25, was reportedly arrested on 29 September, days after the song was released. According to messages posted on Twitter by Hajipour’s sister and reverified by Human Rights Watch, the intelligence services in Mazandaran province called Hajipour’s parents and informed them of his arrest on 1 October.
On Tuesday a state prosecutor in Mazandaran told state news agency IRNA that Hajipour had been released on bail “so that his case can go through the legal process” but gave no further details.
Sources close to Hajipour believe the singer was made to remove the song from Instagram when he was arrested. It has since been registered as having been written by someone else, allowing copyright infringement complaints to be made, resulting in the song being removed by platforms it had been uploaded to. However, the song has already been widely shared and continues to be uploaded by users on YouTube.
“This [song] has broken Persian social media tonight. So many of us have cried listening to it over and over. The artist Shervin Hajipour has summed up the deep national sadness and pain Iranians have been feeling for decades, culminating in the tragedy of #MahsaAmini,” BBC correspondent Bahman Kalbasi said.
“The single best way to understand Iran’s uprising is not any book or essay, but Shervin Hajipour’s ‘Baraye’,” wrote Karim Sadjadpour, of thinktank Carnegie Endowment. “Its profundity requires multiple views.”
A campaign is under way calling on the public to nominate the song for a Grammy in the best song for social change category.
In the song, Hajipour sings lyrics such as, “For dancing in the streets, for kissing loved ones” and “for women, life, freedom”, a chant synonymous with the wave of protests following Amini’s death.
Amini was travelling with her family from Iran’s western province of Kurdistan to the capital, Tehran, on 13 September to visit relatives when she was arrested for failing to meet the country’s strict rules on women’s dress. Witnesses reported that Amini was beaten in the police van, an allegation the police deny. Amini, 22, was taken to hospital in a coma and died two days later.
But the lyrics to Baraye reflect widespread anger and misery, just as Amini’s death was the tipping point for many after the regime engaged in a concerted crackdown on alleged anti-Islamic activity. Enforcement has included the heightened presence of guidance patrol – also known as morality police – on the streets.
One lyric was posted with an image of Hamed Esmaeilion with his 9-year-old daughter, Reera. She was killed alongside her mother, Parisa, on Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, which was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shortly after takeoff from Tehran airport in January 2020. Esmaeilion was one of the lead organisers behind the global protests that took place this weekend.
There have been further arrests across Iran as protests continue, including football player Hossein Mahini, who was arrested after expressing his support for the protests online, and poet Mona Borzoi, after she wrote a poem in support of the protests, according to Hrana, an Iranian human rights news agency.
In a statement, Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, said “so far, 133 people had been killed across Iran”, including more than 40 people who it said died in clashes last week in Zahedan, capital of the south-eastern Sistan-Baluchistan province.
Sadjadpour said: “No matter what happens to the protests it’s worth noting the most viral song in Iran’s history, likely to be remembered for decades to come, isn’t about resistance to America or Israel or anywhere else. It’s a song about Iranian dreams for a normal life.”.
Source » theguardian