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I have to stop reading the news so often because I can’t bear it anymore… Waking up every morning and reading how many children and teenagers disappeared, were raped or killed, and then reading the same before going to bed isn’t really healthy. But unfortunately that is the reality.

Says Shahab and continues telling me more about the current situation in Iran. After the revolution in 1979, freedom and especially women’s rights literally stopped existing. Since then, the so-called morality police that waits in the streets and in frequented places, making sure that people follow the strict rules, has been present there.  Not only do the women wear their headscarf but also, for example, men can’t wear shorts. And it was exactly this morality police who killed Mahsa Amini, a 22-year old girl who was detained for not wearing the scarf properly. After the death of this girl, not only Iran but the whole world started to protest for women, life and freedom – for Iran and a better situation in this country that cannot be ruled by Mullas that symbolize the dictatorship anymore. “The wave of the protests wasn’t caused only because of this one girl but it was a tension that grew during all the years of oppression, dictatorship and lack of freedom. And the last drop was the lies that we have been hearing from the government” Shahab explained to me that the people in power are just spreading lies about all the people that are mostly children and teenagers hoping for change and showing their disapproval to them. They kidnapped the people, killed them and then did not even report to their families where the bodies were or what happened. Sometimes they even take the body, place it under a high building and say that the person committed suicide. This was not a single case but hundreds of people who lost their lives after appearing on demonstration. 

However, none of these efforts and intimidation practices don’t stop these brave people from going into the streets. “They are so brave, they know they can die, but they also know that if their generation doesn’t take action, no one else will. We, the Iranians that go and demonstrate, have a big hope, we know that this is a revolution and that the things and situation in Iran has to rapidly change. We don’t know what will come after, we don’t know who will rule our country but we know that it cannot be worse than it is now”…

The bad situation in the country, and especially the lack of freedom, are the reasons why many people have left the country. In the last 10 years, thousands of young people escaped from Iran because they knew there would be no future for them in this dictatorship country. 

That was also Shahab’s case who left Iran to study in Sweden and then in Germany.  

 Shahab also told me about normal people having family or friends  that are members of IRGC terrorist organisation. This is an Iranian organisation operating in the background and having a lot of power. “The children of these family members have a very radical education. They had to pray all day and read the Quran as kids, the girls had to cover themselves completely and now they are brainwashed and their mind is very closed”, he explains to me, and adds that on their social media they share pro-government content and support these strict religious laws. And they are not the only ones. There are still people in Iran that believe in these rules, respect the government and take part in protests that are organised by the government against the pro-women, freedom and life protests …. 

However the group who longs for change is still much bigger. The hope and belief are huge and Iranians, no matter where they are – be it Berlin, Iran or anywhere else in the world, are connected by this faith and light they see for their future.

Shahab comes from Iran but now he can’t go back to his home country because he would be arrested by the government for supporting the ongoing protest for freedom on his social media. “They probably know about me, they know who is against them and they even check everyone’s phone at the airport, so I would be immediately arrested if they have a look on my Instagram…” says Shahab, who has been living in Germany for 8 years, after he moved here for his biology studies. He can’t return to Iran and join the massive protests there, so he is doing as much as he can here in Berlin. As a photographer he is going to protests happening regularly in Berlin, taking pictures of determined Iranians and sharing it together with important content and news on his social media.

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