‘We want the clerics to get lost’: Iran’s schoolgirls emerge as powerful voices of dissent

Deepa Parent

Amid viral videos of Khamenei’s portraits being torn down in class, each death attributed to police brutality only stokes further waves of protestAlthough the authorities claimed that Shakarami killed herself, her mother has accused the security services of murdering her, claiming that they tried to force her to say her daughter had taken her own life…. “We want the clerics to get lost. Our mothers didn’t have the internet to tell the world what was done to them, but we do. I am here for Nika and for all other Iranian sisters who lost their lives but haven’t made the news,” Elnaz says.

On Monday night, 16-year-old Elnaz sat at home in the Iranian city of Karaj and wept with shock and rage as she scrolled through social media posts about the death of Nika Shakarami. The 17-year-old schoolgirl was allegedly tortured and killed by Iran’s security forces as they try to suppress the protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, allegedly beaten by police for infringing the hijab regulations.

The next morning, Elnaz arrived at school to find a small group of friends gathered in the playground, pulling off their hijabs and shouting: “Death to the dictator.” “I was in tears when I saw the other girls standing together in protest and felt like I betrayed the memory of Nika by not doing more to express my anger. So I pushed back my headscarf, and joined them,” she says. She says the death of Shakarami has proved a tipping point for her and hundreds of other schoolgirls across Iran….