A year ago this week, a 22-year-old Iranian woman left her hometown in the west of Iran to go shopping with some relatives in the country’s capital, Tehran. She never came home.
As she left a train station in the afternoon, she was forced into a van belonging to the ‘morality police’, accused of wearing her hijab incorrectly. She was taken to a detention centre to be reprimanded for her actions. She died in hospital three days later. This is, of course, Mahsa Amini’s story, and her death will be forever remembered by the people of Iran.
Mahsa’s death sent shockwaves through the country as women-led protests erupted and gained support around the world. A whole movement for justice united around the slogan “Woman. Life. Freedom.” But the violent crackdown on protests by the authorities resulted in the death of over 500 people, including children, and the arrest of over 19,000 people.
Standing with viewers
SAT-7’s Persian language channel has stood with viewers in Iran during this distressing year, providing support through dedicated programming and offering prayer and counselling. Several live programmes, including women’s shows Insiders and New Identity, have addressed viewers’ needs, given a platform to suffering Iranians, and explored theological topics relating to gender, violence, human rights and justice.
Sally Momtazi, co-producer and presenter of Insiders, said: “We have been trying to stand by the Iranian people during these tough days. By inviting well-known and knowledgeable Iranian activists to the show, we have talked about many important subjects and have informed our viewers about their rights. We have been trying to raise awareness, hoping and praying for a free Iran where women, life and freedom are honoured.”
On Sunday (17 September) a special episode of Insiders will mark the anniversary of Mahsa’s death. The show will feature the renowned Iranian cartoonist, Mana Neyestani, who will be reflecting on the past year and the important role that artists have played in the movement. Upcoming episodes will cover topics including ‘How to support Iran’s protest from outside of Iran’ and ‘Creative ways to express protest’.
Continued hope for change
A year on, while the scale of protests has decreased significantly, women in Iran continue to find ways of defying the restrictions placed upon them in their day-to-day lives, seeking to claim their rights and autonomy over their own bodies. Reports and videos of women dancing in public and refusing to wear the hijab continue to surface, underlining the strength and determination of women in Iran as they continue to fight for change.
SAT-7 PARS’ Viewer Support team has been a witness to the prayers of Iranian women, children and men as they bring the situation in Iran before Christ. Mehrazar, an Iranian woman, recognises that there is a spiritual battle being fought in her homeland:
Last night I felt so down thinking about Iran and our people. We really must stand in spiritual battle against the work of the enemy in our nation because our people are experiencing so much hardship and injustice. Please tell all churches everywhere to stand together in this endeavour – I am a part of this too and I will be praying that the plan of the Lord for Iran will be fulfilled very soon. The peace of the Lord be with you.”
The current situation in Iran continues to place immense pressure on women. Dissenting voices are brutally silenced, public patrols by the morality police have resumed since July, and surveillance cameras are being used to identify women who ignore the rules.
In advance of the one-year anniversary of the protests, there are reports of a campaign of intimidation, but nevertheless, the SAT-7 PARS team and viewers in Iran continue to place their hope and trust in God. “We believe that God is moving in Iran,” says Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS. “We see His hand at work and the transformative power of His love in the lives of our viewers every day, despite isolation, discrimination and persecution. In the past year, we have been inspired by the strength of the Iranian women in the face of oppression and we have stood by them, seeking to support and encourage them through programming, social media activities and our Viewer Support team. We will continue to pray with them and for them. God has created man and woman in His own image, and we pray that Iranian women will be representatives of His image of love in Iran, equal to men, and in full ownership of their rights.”
- Please pray for peace in Iran, and for protection over the people, especially as tensions run high on the 16 September, the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death.
- Please pray for God’s will to be done in Iran. Pray for and with Iranian Christians as they continue to bring the situation before Christ.
- Pray for God’s Spirit to move in the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that they will “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly” (Micah 6:8b).
- Pray for the healing and restoration of those who have been affected by the crackdown on protesters, especially for those who have lost loved ones.
- Thank God for the opportunity SAT-7 has to connect with people in Iran, and pray that the Lord will give wisdom to those making programmes and supporting viewers.
As we mark one year since the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in Iran, SAT-7 presents the true story of an Iranian woman that highlights the mistreatment and suffering of women and girls in the country. This true story contains references that some readers may find distressing. Click here to read Hayat’s story.
Will you be there for seekers and secret believers in Iran? Click here to find our more about our Autumn appeal and donate today.