Humans of McMaster: Kimia Tahaie
Kimia Tahaie was an opinions staff writer of the Silhouette from 2021-22.
The Silhouette: Please introduce yourself.
Kimia Tahaie: My name is Kimia and I'm a third-year arts and science student. I'm also double majored in communication and media studies. I'm doing a semester abroad in Amsterdam to do journalism courses because that's what I'm going to pursue professionally.
Could you tell us a short summary of what the situation in Iran is like right now?
This all started with the brutal killing of Mahsa Amini. It's very important to note that this was not the first killing that happened under this Islamic regime in Iran. This is one of many. With the protests that have been happening in Iran, they're happening within shorter time frames. The gap is getting shorter and shorter. It just shows how sick and tired the people are of living in the regime. They're trying their best to stop us but people have been very persistent and they're protesting and even going out on the streets every night even though there's a very large chance of getting murdered. But there have been consistent acts of protest. There has been a continuous movement.
It's just been so many years of oppression. I feel like a lot of people don't know the extent of oppression we've been facing during these past years. We are deprived of the simplest rights as a society, men and women. For example, we can't have pets. If you have a dog, the dog will be taken away from you because that's haram. Iranian women can't bike, Iranian women can't sing, Iranian women can't go on the streets without a hijab. So there are so many elements that have just built up to these protests. That's why I am strongly against a lot of Muslim influencers who are coming out and saying that what Persian women are doing is inherently Islamophobic. That could not be further away from the truth. I think what really needs to be understood is that for me, that's not a hijab. For us, it's a piece of cloth that has been forced on our heads for years and years and years. To us, this is a symbol of freedom. We're not saying to ban the hijab; we're saying to give women the freedom to wear what they want and, in the bigger picture, to give freedom to the people of Iran.
A lot of people think this is a women's movement. This is a human rights movement. Freedom for all. I think in America, Europe and Canada, everyone's very desensitized to Middle Eastern issues. I think this is very well-done propaganda because it groups us as poor people far away — the poor Middle Easterners that we can't do anything about. This can't be further away from the truth. This is not just the Middle Eastern issue: with the freedom of Iran comes the freedom of many countries. This is something I feel like people are forgetting. We have largely funded Russia, meaning that they can bomb Ukraine. This is not "just another Middle Eastern issue". This is way bigger than that. This is a very global issue. If we believe that, it will lead to the freedom of many, many other countries.
What can people outside of Iran do to help?
It's so important to not read what's happening in Iran as just another headline.
My people are literally giving their lives in the hopes of achieving very basic human rights. There’s an Internet shutdown in Iran so don't let [Mahsa Amini's name] stop circulating. Because the day that this dies down is the day that the regime can completely take over.
A lot of my friends, even those who aren't Persian, have asked their professors if they could have a few minutes to talk about what's happening. Consistently keeping yourself in the loop with what's happening and spreading awareness on social media is the most important thing. Also, just checking up on your Persian friends because they're not okay.