Iranian singer who faces jail wins Grammy for protest anthem

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Iranian singer who faces jail time for his song that has become an anthem to the ongoing protests rocking the Islamic Republic wept early Monday after seeing he had won a Grammy.

Shervin Hajipour appeared stunned after hearing Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden, announce that he had won the Grammy’s New Song Special Merit Award for Social Change for “Baraye.” Video online showed Hajipour in a dark room, wiping away tears after the announcement.

Hajipour’s song “Baraye”, or “For” in English, begins with: “To dance in the streets”, “For the fear we feel when we kiss”. The lyrics list the reasons why young Iranians posted on Twitter why they had protested against the ruling theocracy in Iran.

It ends with the widely chanted slogan that has become synonymous with the protests since the September death of Iranian-Kurdish woman Masha Amini: “For women, life, freedom.”

Posted on his Instagram page, the song quickly went viral. Hajipour was then arrested and held for several days before being released on bail in October. The 25-year-old singer faces charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “incitement to violence”, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests for months.

The charges against Hajipour can result in up to six years in prison in total. The singer is also banned from leaving Iran.

Wearing a sparkly off-the-shoulder Oscar de la Renta dress at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Biden said a song “can unite, inspire and ultimately change the world.”

“This song has become the anthem of the Mahsa Amini protests, a powerful and poetic call for freedom and women’s rights,” Biden said. “Shervin has been arrested, but this song continues to resonate around the world with its powerful theme: women, life, freedom.”

Those gathered applauded Biden’s remarks. On Instagram, Hajipour simply wrote, “We won.”

There was no immediate reaction in Iranian state media or from government officials to Hajipur’s victory. The singer is among more than 19,600 people arrested during the protests, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran. At least 527 people were killed in a violent crackdown on the protest by authorities.

On Sunday, Iran’s supreme leader reportedly ordered an amnesty or reduced prison terms for “tens of thousands” of people detained amid protests on Sunday, acknowledging the scale of the crackdown for the first time.

The Huffington Gt

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