LOS ANGELES - The local community held a vigil at West Hollywood Park Thursday to honor Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman reportedly killed by Iran's morality police in custody.
The Iranian American Women Foundation (IAWF) organized the candlelight vigil at the park. West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore, Sepi Shyne, Beverly Hills Mayor, Lili Bosse and Beverly Hills Councilmember Sharona Nazarian, spoke at the event.
"We wanted to be here to have a voice for those women who are still in Iran, fighting for their rights and nobody hears them. We are their voice. They've been tortured. They've been put in prison, and it's just because of basic human rights they're demanding," said Mariam Khosravani, the founder of IAWF.
Khosravani said the unrest and protests in Iran are about more than just the hijab.
"Unfortunately Mahsa lost her life for nothing, just because she wanted to wear her scarf the way she wanted. I want to make it clear for everyone what is happening in Iran right now has nothing to do with a hijab. It's just a symbol of the fact that women don't even have freedom to wear what they want to wear. That's why they're burning the scarf because that represents their freedom," she said.
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Mayor Pro Tempore Sepi Shyne shared her story about emigrating from Iran at the event.
"The revolution happened when I was two years old and we fled Iran when I was five to come to the states. If we had not escaped Iran, I would be killed for being a strong outspoken woman, for being a lesbian and refusing to be anyone else but me," said Shyne.
The mayor of Beverly Hills, Lili Bosse, also spoke. The city hall building is lit up to honor Amini this weekend.
"As a neighbor, Beverly Hills city hall will be lit up with these words, 'justice for Mahsa Amini throughout the weekend.' We want the world to know that we are united. We are united for change and we will never stop until human rights, humanity, dignity, and women's rights are changed in Iran and around the world," said Bosse.
Iranian authorities said they would restrict internet access in the country until the unrest settles, sparking more outrage globally.
"Iranian girls are being arrested, beaten, robbed and even killed by the moral security police for not wearing hijab. The internet has been shut down. They cannot communicate and they need our help," said Sharona Nazarian.
Hundreds of local residents joined in the vigil and march.
"I choke up when I think about it [what's happening in Iran] because to be honest, our brothers and sisters back at home are at the front lines in this. This is not just a fight at the moment. It's 43 years in the making, unfortunately," said Sara, a West Hollywood resident.
Sara said she was moved by the support at the vigil.
"As immigrants, we're always sort of searching for our home, and as incredible as America has been to most of us all, it's never going to be Iran for us, and the sad truth for us is our women who are spearheading this movement are fighting for fundamental freedoms. We're not asking for too much. We're saying we want autonomy. We want to be worth what we are, not half that of a man and our men are supporting us. We're not fighting against an ideology. We're not fighting against Islam. We're not fighting against hijab. We're fighting for freedom and choice. We're saying we want the inclusion of everyone," she said.
Southern California has a large population of Iranians, and the community is rallying to help Iranians overseas.
"All I want is for our brothers and sisters back home to know no matter how long this fight is, how heartbreaking it may be, we are going to support them. We are going to be behind them and they're the real heroes," said Sara.