Debate of the Week:Has Iran protest gone global?
THE NEWS:Hajipour’s Baraye received 95,000 submissions to win a Grammy, or 83% of the fan vote.
Is the Iran protest going global? A new hit song has taken social media by storm and brought awareness to the uprising. Some are hopeful that it could help the movement to expand beyond Iran’s borders.
Users clicking onto the video probably did not expect much. With his LED lights and home studio, the artist looks like many low-profile TikTok singers seeking publicity from casual social media swipers. Yet the song they heard is now being described as the “anthem of a generation”.
The singer is Shervin Hajipour, a 25-year-old Iranian artist who has risen to instant fame thanks to his hit single Baraye. Dedicated to recent protests across the country and posted on Instagram on 28 September, the song quickly racked up more than 40 million views. The following day, authorities took it down and arrested the musician the following day.
The lyrics are compiled from tweets written by Iranians about the country’s woes, and the title, which means “for” or “because of” in Farsi, is a refrain which echoes throughout the song, for example in the opening lines: “For dancing on the streets/for my sister, your sister, our sisters.”
Videos show the song being sung by mutinous schoolgirls, blared through speakers across Tehran and played on repeat at protests across the country.
According to some, this song is helping the movement to expand worldwide. Music theorist Mariusz Kozak has his own explanation for this phenomenon. Where rational arguments might not be fully understood, he argues, the emotions roused by a melody help to bring people together, creating a “powerful social bond”.
Protest music has a long and proud global tradition. Famous anti-war anthems, such as John Lennon’s Imagine or Zombie by The Cranberries, are still popular today. However, even the artists of protest songs have expressed their doubts that a song can really change the world.
Is the Iran protest going global?
This song has hit a chord that no other song from Iran has ever hit. It has not only inspired people in the country to fight for their own happiness, but it has also helped to raise consciousness about Iran’s issues far beyond its borders.
We cannot use this song to judge whether or not the protest is “going global”. A song is like a trend — people connect to it for as long as it is catchy and stays on their social media feed, but it will not live long enough to sustain these protests.
Music can contribute to a movement, and raising awareness outside of Iran is important, but what power can a song ultimately have against a repressive regime?