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Charlotte Iranian Americans join global protests against the Islamic Republic

Nick de la Canal
Charlotte-area Iranian-Americans and their supporters gathered in uptown Charlotte on Saturday, Nov. 5, to protest against the Islamic Republic.

Chants of "Freedom for Iran" and "Women. Life. Freedom" echoed off glass skyscrapers around uptown Charlotte on Saturday as local Iranian Americans and their supporters marched and rallied against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The protest was the seventh in a series of weekly protests organized by local college professor Shahram Mazhari of York Technical College, with help from other local Iranian Americans.

Mazhari said he began organizing the Charlotte protests several weeks ago in solidarity with global protests sparked by the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini.

Amini was detained in September by Iran's morality police, who said she wasn't wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf, known as a hijab.

She died three days later from what police said was a heart attack, though her family has said she had no history of heart trouble, and Amini appeared to have suffered multiple blows to the head before she died, according to London-based broadcaster Iran International.

"When I heard that news, I thought, well, we have to be the voices of people like Mahsa Amini in America," Mazhari said. "We want to make sure that the Iranian people are not alone in this. Human rights aren't just a local issue. Human rights are a global issue."

Saturday's protest in Charlotte began in Romare Bearden Park. Protesters held signs bearing Amini's name, as well as photos of people who were detained or killed by Iranian police during recent protests inside the country.

The crowd marched up Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Tryon Street before looping around at the intersection of Trade of Tryon Streets to return to the park.

Mazhari said he planned to hold another march and protest next Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. again at Romare Bearden Park. He said the group hoped to continue holding weekly marches and protests for long as they could.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal