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Iowa State Iranian students, supporters stitch quilt in support of ongoing protests

Ames Tribune logo Ames Tribune 12/2/2022 Phillip Sitter, Ames Tribune

People from Iowa State University and Ames came together to stitch together a message of support for Iranians protesting against their government.

The quilt features the faces of protestors who have died with the words "Woman Life Freedom" in English and Persian. It's the phrase protestors have used as a rallying cry since the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody of Iran's morality police.

The quilt sewn this week will be displayed at the university's College of Design before the end of the semester. Zohreh Parvini, an Iranian doctoral student at Iowa State, said it also will be displayed around campus into the spring.

The stitching event by Iranian Students' and Scholars' Association at Iowa State was among hundreds of similar rallies Wednesday at universities around the world in solidarity with Iranians who've taken to the streets since Amini's death, according to the Iranian Scholars for Liberty.

"We just want to tell our story," said Mahsa Taghavi, an Iranian graduate student at Iowa State who helped organize the event at the Sloss House, which is home to the university's Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity.

Iranian students at Iowa State have led protests on campus since the death of Amini, who was arrested for wearing her hijab too loosely. Women in Iran have been required to wear hijabs in public since the 1979 Islamic Revolution brought to power the country's religious authorities.

Saba Amiri, an Iowa State University sophomore, irons fabric for a quilt students and Ames residents stitched together on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, at the Sloss House. It will be hung as a banner on the Iowa State University campus in support of protestors in Iran. © Phillip Sitter/Ames Tribune Saba Amiri, an Iowa State University sophomore, irons fabric for a quilt students and Ames residents stitched together on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, at the Sloss House. It will be hung as a banner on the Iowa State University campus in support of protestors in Iran.

Amini died Sept. 16. The Associated Press reported Monday more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest that's followed her death — the first such count given by the government there.

Human Rights Activists in Iran, a U.S.-based group that's closely tracked the protests and the Iranian government's violent crackdown, said 451 protestors and 60 security forces have been killed, and more than 18,000 people have been detained.

More:Iowa State students protest Iranian government's repression: 'We will be their voice!'

Taghavi said her sister has been arrested in Iran and her brother also has participated in protests. But she said both are OK.

Taghavi said she knows she's putting herself at risk protesting, even in the U.S., but she hopes to go home to see her family.

"Right now, the important thing for me is to fight for people's freedom," said Taghavi, adding that women in Iran are denied the same basic rights as men.

The faces on the quilt are of people said to be killed while protesting amid the Iranian government's violent crackdown on dissent following the September death of a woman in custody of the country's morality police. © Phillip Sitter/Ames Tribune The faces on the quilt are of people said to be killed while protesting amid the Iranian government's violent crackdown on dissent following the September death of a woman in custody of the country's morality police.

"In my country, the women are so brave," Taghavi said. She added that protestors don't need money — they need a voice.

Parvini said pressure from the United Nations is helping.

The U.N.'s Human Rights Council announced last week it began an independent fact-finding mission into violence against protestors in Iran, which has reportedly included live ammunition, birdshot and other metal pellets, teargas and batons, and threats of the death penalty against protestors who've been arrested.

Iranian Scholars for Liberty, which describes itself as a collection of more than 200 faculty, staff, students and alumni from around the world, lists demands of academic institutions and governments that include official condemnation of the Iranian regime's crackdown on academic communities, disengagement with spokespersons for the regime and financial divestment from the regime. Iowa State is one of the 76 U.S. institutions that is represented in the Iranian Scholars for Liberty.

Students at Iowa State on Wednesday read a statement that included the same demands.

More:An Ames Tribune reporter took a personal trip to Ukraine. Here's what he saw.

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at psitter@gannett.com. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Iowa State Iranian students, supporters stitch quilt in support of ongoing protests

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