Iranian singer’s song brings people together to protest Mahsa Amini’s death


As protests towards the Iranian authorities have been rising, a track has been echoing, uniting folks the world over who’re combating for — amongst a number of issues — fundamental human rights for ladies.

Baraye, which interprets to “for” or “due to” in Persian, has been sung by tens of hundreds of protesters throughout demonstrations following the dying of Mahsa Amini whereas she was in police custody in Tehran. The track has additionally been used often in social media posts referring to the protests. 

In a way, the track has develop into an instance of the facility of music in social actions and its skill to unite folks for a trigger.

The track “resonates with so many Iranians as a result of it so poetically and fantastically touches on a variety of points that concern us all as human beings,” stated Shiva Balaghi, a cultural historian of the Center East on the College of California Santa Barbara. 

Shervin Hajipour, a widely known singer in Iran, launched the track to his Instagram account on Sept. 28. The lyrics are composed of dozens of tweets posted by Iranians expressing why they’re protesting. Every of these tweets start with “due to.”

The protests erupted following the Sept. 16 dying of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish girl. She was in a coma after being detained by the nation’s morality police for allegedly carrying her scarf incorrectly. 

A demonstrator cuts hair throughout a protest following the dying of Amini, in entrance of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sept. 23. (Christian Mang/Reuters)

“[Hajipour] introduced within the tweets of on a regular basis folks [and] their on a regular basis sufferings into the music,” stated Nasim Niknafs, an affiliate professor within the division of music on the College of Toronto who specializes within the relationship between music schooling, social justice and activism.

Niknafs, who has additionally printed analysis on music in Iran, sees a part of the highly effective resonance of the track within the emotion it carries, one thing she attributes to Hajipour’s personal expertise. 

“It wasn’t an out-of-body expertise for him. He was experiencing these [hardships] each day residing within the nation, so he introduced that as a supply of inspiration.” 

One of many first traces within the track is: “Due to each time we have been afraid to kiss our lovers on the street,” referring to the illegality of affection in public. One other says: “Due to the woman who wished she was a boy.”

“Even when you have not been by it, you’ve got heard about it. I feel that is why it touched so many individuals’s hearts as a result of, one, it was in actual time what folks in Iran have been saying nevertheless it’s additionally issues you may have heard earlier than,” stated Sahar Golshani, an Iranian-Canadian podcaster in Toronto who identifies as an activist and has helped manage a protest in Toronto. 

“So it actually hit deep down in your soul if you heard the lyrics.” 

WATCH: Sahar Golshani reposted Shervin Hajipour’s video after it was taken down:

Golshani stated the track is connecting Iranians, each in Iran or within the diaspora, together with herself. Although she has by no means lived in Iran — her dad and mom left earlier than she was born — she says she’s nonetheless felt very linked to it as a result of since she was a baby, she’s been listening to concerning the hardships from her household.

“It will get to a degree the place you are like: ‘I must do one thing about it,'” stated Golshani. “This track was form of like a powder keg second for lots of us.”

40M views in 48 hours

Nearly immediately after the track was posted on Sept. 28, it went viral, garnering greater than 40 million views inside 48 hours on Instagram earlier than it was taken down. Experiences indicated that the 25-year-old singer had been arrested. On Oct. 4, a press release posted on his Instagram story indicated that he was out on bail, however the track was by no means reposted to his profile.

Many are additionally circulating hyperlinks on social media urging that it’s nominated for a brand new class for the 2023 Grammy Awards: greatest track for social change

“I would love for the Grammys to acknowledge [Hajipour’s] track. A part of its recognition is that it is only a stunning track,” stated Balaghi. 

Individuals gentle a fireplace throughout a protest in Tehran on Sept. 21 over the dying of Amini. (West Asia Information Company/Reuters)

“The concept that he pulled collectively feedback from social media, crowdsourcing the lyrics, actually speaks to the motion…. I’ve heard it sung on the streets of [Los Angeles] by the diaspora group and in Tehran school rooms by center college women. That is highly effective. It speaks to this era.”

Whereas songs and music are a strong aspect in social actions, Iran has a wealthy cultural historical past with artwork and it continues to play a major position. 

“Music-making is a part of life in Iran. It is how folks dwell their lives … it is how they assume and perceive the world round them,” Niknafs stated. 

“Even after the 1979 revolution when official establishments weren’t allowed to have Western classical music or widespread music, like jazz, rock, steel…music was nonetheless there, poetry was nonetheless there,” stated Niknafs. “They’re very built-in within the cloth of the society.”

Girls, youthful era main motion

In contrast to earlier demonstrations in Iran, the Mahsa Amini protests have been primarily led by ladies and youthful Iranians. 

In 2020, about 37 per cent of Iran’s inhabitants was below 25 years of age, that means a major variety of these residing in Iran weren’t alive in the course of the 1979 Iranian revolution or the Iran-Iraq Conflict from 1980 to 1988. 

Consultants have stated this makes the youthful generations extra fearless when being the driving pressure behind this motion. 

College students maintain a rally on the College of British Columbia in Vancouver on Tuesday in protest after the current dying of Amini. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“This era isn’t naive. They know the dangers they’re taking. However they’re lifting one another as much as make a basic change,” stated Balaghi. “One of many road chants is: ‘Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, we’re collectively.’ It is a battle between hope and concern, an artist in Iran defined. And hope has grown bigger than concern.”

Niknafs agrees, including that the track is a testomony of their aspirations. 

“They’re longing for a greater life and it is being mirrored of their music and the music is making a hopefulness. It is hand in hand,” stated Niknafs.

In contrast to earlier actions in Iran, and regardless of harsh web crackdowns, the youthful era has additionally discovered energy in using social media. 

Many have been circulating photographs and movies of what’s occurring in Iran as a method of getting their message out to worldwide audiences.

“Gen Z and millennials have a voice and energy inside social media to amplify their voices,” stated Golshani. “They see how social media can provoke change.” 


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