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Iranian students join global protest, call on ASU for more support

Between 700 and 800 people attended the Arizona for a Free Iran rally in Tempe on Oct. 1 to protest women's and human rights abuses in Iran committed by the Islamic Republic

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Demonstrators wave Iranian flags and present signs on top of the ASU bridge over University Drive on Tempe campus Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

Iranian students are calling on ASU for more action and support amid global protests against the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Last Saturday, Arizona for a Free Iran hosted a rally at the Palm Walk Overpass to protest women's and human rights abuses in Iran committed by the Islamic Republic. The protest was one of many that took place all over the world. 

"These latest waves of protests are like nothing we in the diaspora have ever seen before. The call this time is not for reform, but rather an end to the Islamic Republic," Leyli, a sophomore student said. Leyli requested her last name and major be omitted because she has family in Iran who may be persecuted. 

Graduate student Rasoul  Foroughfard, who previously worked as a journalist in Iran and is studying finance, helped plan the Saturday protest in Tempe 700 to 800 people attended, he said.

The global protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, also known as Jina, on Sept. 16 after she was detained by Iran's morality police for her hijab not meeting government standards. 

"This is not an isolated occurrence. There's hundreds, thousands of girls like Mahsa that have been assaulted or murdered before her," Leyli said.

Following the protests in Iran, the Islamic Republic shut off access to the internet, leaving many unable to contact their family and friends back in Iran. 

For Iranian students like Foroughfard, "we don't care about homework, we don’t care about exams," when they are thousands of miles away from their family and have not heard from them in days.

Cassandra Aska, deputy vice president and dean of students at the Tempe campus, said in an email ASU condemns the "behaviors and actions that threaten or intimidate any individual or group of individuals on the basis of gender or any other particular status" in Iran.

"Peaceful protests, such as those held on our campus, are examples of ASU's commitment to expression and freedom of speech," Aska said in the email.

Foroughfard, Leyli, Sadaf Asadifar, junior studying neuroscience and psychology, and Anisa Afkhami, a transfer student studying health entrepreneurship and innovation, said they have not been directly contacted by the Dean of Students. They have also not seen any resources offered, public statements or action from the University, they said.

"If ASU is able to set up panels and talk about the war in Ukraine and support its Ukrainian students, as it should, if it's able to set up panels to talk about supporting Afghan students, as it should, then, surely it is capable of supporting its Iranian students in the same way," Leyli said.

Afkhami said it is important for the University to provide resources for all ASU students to understand and know about current events around the world and to learn about other cultures and countries. 

"Iranians and Iranian Americans deserve to see that support from the University," Asadifar said. "Every Iranian American right now is screaming as loud as they can about everything that's going on, but our voices are only going to be so loud on our own."

This week, protests were also held at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. Many Sharif University students have reportedly been arrested, beaten and trapped by Iran's riot police.

"There's real connections here with the people that study here and I feel like it's been total radio silence on ASU's part," Leyli said. 

Afkhami, also a volunteer and organizer for Arizona for a Free Iran, said they intend to hold more events and will be holding another protest tonight, Oct. 8, at 5:30 p.m. at Scottsdale Road and Camelback Road, and hope to see more action from the University. 

"Please be assured, the ASU community cares and is here to support our students as we stand together, committed to social impact and justice," Aska said.

 Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled  Foroughfard's name. The story was updated Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. to correct the error. 

Edited by Wyatt Myskow, Piper Hansen, Greta Forslund, Sophia Balasubramanian and Kristen Apolline Castillo.

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Jasmine KabiriAssignment Editor

Jasmine Kabiri is the assignment editor at The State Press, overseeing and editing stories produced by the six digital desks. She has previously worked as a reporter at The Daily Camera and Cronkite News.

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