Iranian Songs of Protest

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Music has traditionally played a key role in riots and revolutions as it represents an extremely powerful and direct means of communicating and transmitting the values and ideas at the basis of the protest.⁣


In the context of the ongoing mass protests after the murder of #MahsaAmini, Iranian musician Shervin #Hajipour, for example, posted a video of him singing a song whose lyrics consist of a collection of tweets by Iranian Twitter users expressing their anger and grief about the condition of women in contemporary Iran, as well as denouncing the broader socio-economic, corruption and religious issues of the country. What makes this song impactful and dramatically representative of the historical moment Iran is living is that the lyrics come directly from people’s hearts.⁣


In Farsi, the song is ‘#Bayere,’ translatable as ‘because of…’ or ‘for…’. “For dancing in the streets, for kissing loved ones,” and “for women, life, freedom” is some of the lyrics, which express the rage for women’s living conditions in Iran, while also containing some hope for a brighter future of freedom.⁣


Notably, the actual tweets were shown in the video clips, which gives context and validation to the claims of Iranian protesters. The video was viewed 40 million times in 48 hours and can so far be acknowledged as the ‘anthem’ of the Iranian women's rights revolution. Videos of Iranian protesting schoolgirls singing Bayere have been going viral. Shervin Hajipour was reported to have been arrested a few days after the song's release.⁣


Moreover, Iranian activists and artists Samin and Behin Bolouri recently posted a video where they were singing the famous Italian antifascist song Bella Ciao. This song most likely originated among female rice field workers of the last century to denounce the mistreatment by their masters and the horrible working conditions. It was adapted to epitomize the partisan struggle against fascists and Nazis. Later on, it was adopted by protesters all over the world, including today’s Iranians, to express their fight for freedom.⁣