In 2017, Iranian society was taken aback by the courage and nobility of unknown athlete Asghar Nahvipour. A video had circulated on social media showing a police officer fatally shooting Asghar. “My life for Iran,” the hero shouted before losing his life.

Despite the severe censorship of the internet in Iran, the news rapidly spread across the country and even abroad. Nahvipour soon became an icon of defiance against the regime’s misogynistic measures, including the Gasht-e Ershad [Guidance Patrols].

What Happened?

Since the mullahs took power in Iran in 1979, they have institutionalized misogyny in the ‘Islamic Republic’ constitution. According to Parliament [Majlis] National Security Commission chair Mojtaba Zonnour, 32 organizations and government bodies are involved in suppressing women in Iran. These bodies regularly harass women and girls, compelling them to obey the mandatory hijab laws.

On July 15, 2017, cleric Khalil Zolfaqari began harassing a young woman about her hijab at the Shahr-e Rey subway station in south-eastern Tehran. In defense of the oppressed woman, Asghar attacked Zolfaqari and removed his turban.

Security forces immediately appeared at the scene. Asghar—obviously unarmed—blamed the officers for failing to defend women. In response, an officer shot directly at Asghar’s heart from less than three feet away. Videos circulated on social media at the time showed Asghar chanting “my life for Iran” as he suffered in pain following the shooting, before succumbing to his injuries.

The event soon prompted public anger against the Iranian regime and Asghar’s murderers. His friends and several locals installed giant portraits and Hejle [memorial symbols] in the Shahr-e Rey district. Many defiant youths in support of Asghar stated, “He taught us that we should not remain silent against the mullahs’ assaults.”

Security forces soon tore down the portraits and collected symbols and banned the Nahvipours and locals from holding commemorating ceremonies for their loved ones.

Citizens across the country turned to social media and posted anti-regime videos and posters in memory of Asghar, and in sympathy with his mourning family. They later announced that they would join the Nahvipours at Asghar’s tomb, voicing Asghar’s innocence and dignity.

Security Forces Concealed the Murder

Following the public outrage over the crime, oppressive forces and state-run media launched a propaganda campaign to conceal the crime. The forensic organization even went as far as to produce a fake death certificate, stating that Asghar had passed away due to ‘being stricken by a projected object’ instead of the bullet. The organization also declared that ‘rupture of the vital vessels of the pelvis’ was the cause of death rather than the shot to his heart.

The forensic organization’s false certificate insulted Iranian physicians’ society. The file showed how the theocratic regime can exploit non-profit organizations to deceive citizens. This was not the only instance, as the organization also colluded with the Health Ministry by providing fabricated statistics during the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent weeks, the mullahs have once again carried out a series of misogynistic measures across the country. Under the ‘hijab’ excuse, they are trying to cleanse the streets of the leading force of anti-regime protests and Iran’s defiant women.

Despite their efforts, the repression has backfired, arousing a strong wave of empathy for women. On July 12, businessmen shut down their shops in Tehran’s Kourosh Mall in response to the Guidance Patrols’ prevention of women who defied compulsory hijab from entering the mall.

Other videos show defiant youths inspired by Asghar Nahvipour’s courage, isolating Guidance Patrols’ members and venting their anger over the misogynist regime’s policies. Such brave support for women’s fundamental rights derives from the Iranian people’s 43 years of struggle against the dictatorship.

Despite the regime’s misogynistic core, the people of Iran steadily remain focused on overthrowing the tyranny in its entirety. This is the only path that ensures Iranian women and girls will eventually meet their inherent rights. As the Iranian opposition President-elect Maryam Rajavi has repeatedly reiterated, the Iranian people are saying, “No to the compulsory veil, no to the compulsory religion, and no to the compulsory government.”