At Times Square, NYU students join thousands to demand Iran regime change

NYU’s Persian Cultural Society took part in the largest Iranian protest in New York City on Saturday.

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A protest at Times Square against the Islamic Republic of Iran on Nov. 19. (Yezen Saadah for WSN)

Yezen Saadah, Deputy News Editor

The Persian Cultural Society at NYU joined over 10,000 people gathered in Times Square to protest against the Islamic Republic of Iran on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 19. The protest follows the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iranian morality police in September. A wave of protests has since spread across the world.

Kiana Naderi, the vice president of the Persian Cultural Society, said the protest was the largest Iranian demonstration thus far in the city. Naderi worked alongside the protest’s organizers and collaborated with students at Columbia University, Rutgers University and other student groups to recruit volunteers for the demonstration. People from across the East Coast participated in the protest, according to Naderi.

“All of our demonstrations have been about liberating Iran and bringing light to the revolution that’s happening right now by amplifying the voices of people who are fighting for basic human rights and freedom,” Naderi said. “This march was to keep getting the attention of the United Nations because they, the UNICEF and a lot of these other organizations have been very quiet about what’s going on, and we want to make sure they know that there are some terrible things happening in Iran.”

Organized by Woman Life Freedom NYC, an activist organization advocating for women’s rights in Iran, the protest was a joint effort by Iranian communities in New York City, including NYU’s Persian Cultural Society. Woman Life Freedom NYC also held a large demonstration in Washington Square Park on Nov. 5, which many members of the Persian Cultural Society attended.

At the demonstration, protesters chanted “down with dictators,” “human rights for Iran” and, most prominently, “woman, life, freedom.” The protest started on Broadway and 42nd Street, making its way through Bryant Park before arriving at the United Nations building. 

“We mourn, as this week is the 3-year anniversary of Bloody Aban, when the regime killed over 1,500 protesters back in November 2019,” said Persian Cultural Society member Roksaneh Salartash. “We fight for recognition and action by the U.N. and other global leaders to help the people of Iran. We need to keep putting pressure on those in power so change finally happens.” 

According to the Persian Cultural Society, one of the protest’s main goals was to gain international recognition for the demonstrations happening across Iran against the Iranian government, and to expose the deaths and imprisonments of hundreds of Iranian activists. Naderi emphasized the importance of community, saying that these protests not only will enact change, but will also strengthen the relationship between Iranian communities throughout the city. 

“Through protesting, we’ve been able to build a really beautiful community of people who share similar stories and a genuine love for preserving their culture,” Naderi said. “I’ve formed a family with all these people I protest with every single weekend. We believe it’s going to result in change — we’ve never seen demonstrations like this in Iran. Things are really reaching a tipping point and it’s our responsibility to keep amplifying the voices in Iran.”

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected]