President Joe Biden said Friday he was “shocked” by how Iranians have reacted to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, saying the nation has been “awakened” to women-led protests and will not be silent “for one.” for a long, long time.”
While visiting California’s Irvine Valley Community College, Biden made brief comments about the ongoing protests in Iran before his formal speech, saying the United States stands with the women of Iran. Southern California has traditionally had a very large population of Iranian immigrants.
“Iran must end its violence against its citizens with nothing but basic rights,” Biden said.
“I want to hear from the citizens, the brave women of Iran, really, really,” Biden said, “who are demonstrating right now to ensure their basic, fundamental rights.”
Speaking about Amini’s death, he said: “I was stunned by what he woke up in Iran. Something has been awakened for a long time that is not expected to subside for a long time.”
Mass protests in Iran led to the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was arrested by moral police on September 13 on charges of violating the country’s conservative dress code. The morality police is an exclusive unit that enforces strict dress codes for women, such as the mandatory headscarf. Amini’s death has sparked outrage over freedoms in the Islamic Republic to the lasting effects of the sanctions.
Biden has moved quickly to support the Iranian protesters. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Biden referred to the protests against her death and said the US stands “right now with the brave women of Iran who are demonstrating for their basic rights”.
A few days later, the US announced sanctions against Iran’s moral police for “abuse and violence against Iranian women and violations of the rights of peaceful Iranian demonstrators.”
Biden said on Friday: “Women all over the world are being persecuted in many ways, but in God’s name they should wear what they want to wear. No one should tell them what to wear.”
The president thanked those holding placards reading “Free Iran” at the event, acknowledging some of the protesters outside the university where he was speaking.
“I want to thank you all for speaking up. I want to thank the Persian community here for being so vocal,” Biden said.
The effort to move quickly to respond to the spreading protests in Iran comes after some senior officials in the Biden administration acknowledged that the United States was too slow to respond when protests erupted in Iran in 2009. administration, recently told NBC that officials were worried about undermining the protesters rather than helping them.