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Iranian protest anthem wins special award at Grammys

Singer Shervin Hajipour, who is currently on bail, won for his song 'Baraye' which backs the anti-government protest movement
A still from a video Shervin Hajipour posted on his Instagram page (Shervin Hajipour)
A still from a video Shervin Hajipour posted on his Instagram page (Shervin Hajipour)

A song that has become the anthem of the anti-government protests in Iran was given a special award at the Grammy music awards on Sunday, presented by US First Lady Jill Biden.

The special Grammy for Best Song for Social Change was handed to Shervin Hajipour, a 25-year-old Iranian musician, for his song Baraye

The song, originally released on Hajipour's Instagram page shortly after the protests began, has been taken up by activists in Iran who have been demonstrating since September 2022 following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Amini died following her arrest for "inappropriate hijab", sparking off one of the biggest anti-government movements the country has seen in years.

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Hajipour himself was arrested in October before being released on bail, and is now unable to leave the country. He has been accused of “propaganda activity against the regime” and “inciting and instigating people to commit violent acts".

“This song became the anthem of the Mahsa Amini protests, a powerful and poetic call for freedom and women’s rights,” said Biden, as she announced the award. 

“Shervin was arrested, but this song continues to resonate around the world with its powerful theme: Women, life, freedom.”

The lyrics of Baraye, which roughly translates as For in English, focus on a range of issues affecting Iranians, including economic and environmental concerns, as well as the subjugation of women.

It includes the line "for women, life, freedom", a Kurdish slogan which has become ubiquitous across the anti-government movement.

Following the Grammy win, Hajipour's Instagram account posted "we won".

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