BLACK VOICES
01/04/2018 08:07 am ET

Yara Shahidi Compares Iran Protests With Black Lives Matter: We're All Interconnected

The half Iranian-American, half African-American actress said she hopes others can view the protests from a "humane perspective."

Comparing the ongoing anti-government protests in Iran to demonstrations in the U.S. like Black Lives Matter, actress and activist Yara Shahidi is urging Americans to consider just how interconnected the situation in Iran is to the U.S. experience.

Appearing on “The View” on Wednesday, the 17-year-old “Black-ish” star, who is half African-American and half Iranian-American, said she hoped people would see the Iran protests from an empathetic and “humane perspective.” 

The U.S., she said, has a tendency of taking an isolationist approach when it comes to some global issues. But Shahidi said Americans may find they have more in common with the Iranian protesters than they may expect.

“These movements [are] really connected to our own movements in the past, whether it’s the Black Lives Matter rallies that have been happening or the [2017] Women’s March,” she said. “So I think for me, it’s about showing support for the protesters and making sure people are safe, and understanding that this is part of our larger global community.”

“It’s so much more than the Iranian nuclear deal, it’s so much more than these Trump tweets in favor for or against the government,” Shahidi continued. “It’s really about the people that are being affected. They’re in a very similar situation [to us]. They were sold an economic plan that didn’t benefit them — similar to the [U.S.] tax plan that’s happening now. We have to look at that interconnectivity.”

Shahidi, who has family members living in the city of Mashhad where the protests began on Dec. 28, has previously expressed her support for Iran’s protesters, tweeting this message of love last week:

Tens of thousands of Iranians are estimated to have taken to the streets in at least a dozen cities and towns since the protests began in Mashhad a week ago. Hundreds of protesters have since been arrested and at least 21 people have been killed in the unrest. 

The protests were triggered by discontent over rising food prices, Iran’s high rate of unemployment and the country’s stagnant economy, which has remained weak despite the historic nuclear deal in 2015, which lifted crippling economic sanctions in return for a scaling back of Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

As the protests have escalated, some demonstrators have called for government reform and the ouster of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Reacting to the unrest in Iran, President Donald Trump has tweeted his support for the protesters on the ground, saying Iran is “failing at every level” and that it is “TIME FOR CHANGE.” 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was re-elected last year, expressed disdain for Trump’s comments, calling him an “enemy of the Iranian nation.”

“This gentleman in America, who is now trying to sympathize with our nation, appears to have forgotten that he called the Iranian nation terrorists several months ago,” he recently said, according to the BBC. “This man, who is an enemy of the Iranian nation from the top of his head to his very toes, has no right to sympathize with Iranians.”

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