As international mainstream media has already started to lose interest in the revolt in Iran, we need to continue the fight for dignity and liberty, using the very thing that helped start it in the first place — social media.
The fate of Iran will be determined by the fearless women, men and children who have been standing up to the regime for decades — but this fight is not theirs alone. We cannot rely on governments or traditional media to win this revolution. And we must show solidarity and support, and never forget their sacrifices. For women. For life. For freedom.
Over the years, my sister and I have seen Iran fade in and out of headlines, usually framed around a political shift or the wrangling of a nuclear deal. Yet, we have also seen Iran from the inside.
We are successful entrepreneurs under the age of 30. We are women. And we are Iranian.
We grew up in the United States, after our mother left Iran in 1998 with us — then 5-year-old twins — in tow. A young woman herself, she wanted us to have the advantages we wouldn’t have been privileged to experience in Iran.
She had to run to another country to give us a chance at a better life, but she didn’t have the weapon that the current generation has to back their fight for freedom — the internet and social media. And it’s this current generation — the digital native millennials and Gen Zers — who are at the forefront of this new revolution.
These young people have grown up with and had their worldview shaped by the internet and social media. 96 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds in Iran use a form of social media despite heavy censorship, and it has led them to continuously ask the question, “Why do women in other parts of the world live with freedoms that I do not have?”
Social media has allowed young Iranian women a window into a life that could be — a life of freedom. They’ve been given something other than the disinformation spread by the government. They see girls their age at pool parties, career fairs, participating in #MeToo protests and living their lives on own their terms.
They see what women like my sister and I have been able to achieve, that it could easily have been any of them in our position, if given the chance.
Overall, 70 percent of STEM graduates and 60 percent of university graduates in Iran are women, yet only 15 percent of the workforce is female. Iranian women are extraordinary, but they are oppressed — and now, they’ve had enough.
A fire has long been burning in their hearts, but in September, that fire turned into an inferno, one so bright the entire world could no longer ignore. And now, through social media, everyone can see their strength, fortitude and determination.
Our sisters in Iran are no longer afraid of a government that has figuratively, and literally, thrown a veil over them for decades. This will not be another failed revolution.
A revolution begins from the bottom, a coup starts from the top. This isn’t a coup. It isn’t an emerging regime trying to replace another. This is the people claiming what’s rightfully theirs, to return Iran to its peaceful, loving and free-spirited people.
And they will not fail — not if we help keep their fire burning. Not if we make sure the efforts of the brave women and men in Iran are heard and felt across the world, nourishing and fortifying those who dare to take on the theocrats.
They will be painted as thugs and vandals as long as they continue to stand against the regime; some will be incarcerated and killed. And our task is to continue sharing the truth through social media. We must take on part of their burden, so they have the energy to keep going. We must be their voice when theirs grow hoarse, their legs when theirs weaken. We must help them keep hope alive.
When a fire rages so fiercely, it runs the risk of burning out, or blazing out of control.
It will take peaceful, strategic and consistent protest from the women, men and children of Iran to win this fight. And from the outside, it is up to us to amplify their voices, so those in power cannot silence them with censorship or quell them with violence.
It will take time. But they will see our solidarity, they will feel our love, and it will give them the strength to continue until the ropes that bind Iran have burned to ash.
We know how easy it is to think a problem has gone away simply because you don’t see it on the news, that “someone else has taken care of it.” Don’t fall into that trap.
We urge all who read this to pay attention. Keep talking to your friends and your community about what’s going on in Iran. Join and organize protests. Blog and vlog about protesters’ stories and their fight. Step out of your comfort zone to support the efforts of the Iranian people to win this revolution.
Prove that the hopes of Hadis Najafi, who was shot down by bullets as she protested, were not misplaced. Prove that the song of protest sung by Sarina Esmailzadeh, who died at the hands of the police, will not fade away once mainstream media stops reporting on it.
Prove that those who have been taken from us will not be forgotten.
Prove to those still fighting that this fire will not burn out.
Prove that this world supports Iran, loves women, cherishes life and values freedom.
Source » politico