Editor, The Beacon:

The March 21 Women, Life, Freedom event hosted by Stetson University’s global-health students gave students, and all of us, an opportunity to learn about the Ancient Persian New Year, and why it is celebrated on the first day of spring.

The event also highlighted what is happening in Iran currently, and how the Iranian women are leading a full-blown revolution against a patriarchal and misogynist regime. These women and the Iranian members of Gen-Z are pushing the revolution through by literally risking their lives.

Sadly, this event also gave us the opportunity to compare what’s happening in Iran to what’s happening in Florida and across our country, today.

The Iranian regime does not only suppress women’s occupational, educational and cultural participation. They also restrict access to abortion and health care for women. They also ban books that are against their beliefs. I am who I am today because, since the age of 13, I intentionally read the books they banned.

Additionally, this regime controls education and what should be taught at schools. They also tell college professors what needs to be taught in their classrooms and what must be avoided.

The ayatollahs in Iran do not tolerate LGBTQs, and deny their existence.

These facts are all very familiar and hit close to home for many of us in Florida today. I hope the event inspired our students and others who attended that, no matter where we live, as humans we have common pains, and we need to stay together to overcome bigotry, hate, misogyny and homophobia — at home and overseas.

We should never give up hope.

Dr. Asal Johnson


— Johnson is a professor of public health at Stetson University.


  1. Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for calling attention to the grave injustices in Iran and the courageous young people–boys and girls, men and women–sacrificing their lives for the most basic freedoms. As you know, the Baha’is and other religious minorities in Iran have long been targets as well, simply for their views. All sorts of causes in the US rally to the cry of freedom, including some in Florida who, as you well describe, advocate steps that bear disturbing similarities to the beginnings of political repression elsewhere.


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