(NewsNation) — “The internet is going to be cut off in Iran,” Yeganeh Mafaher said in a recording to her TikTok followers.
The video cut to images of the protests that erupted after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police.
Demonstrations began Sept. 17 at Amini’s burial site.
Since the election of hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi last year, morality police have become increasingly aggressive. Videos shared online show officers manhandling young women in connection with clothes or hijabs deemed insufficiently modest. Amnesty International estimates that about 52 people have been killed during the protests.
“Iran needs your help in spreading this message,” Mafaher, a widely known influencer and activist born in Iran, told her following.
She repeated that sentiment Friday on NewsNation’s “CUOMO,” when she emphasized the power of keeping the Iranian protests in the news.
“The biggest thing you can do is share this story and not let it become one of those things that you hear about for two days and then you’re, like, ‘What happened with that?'” Mafaher said. “No. Continue talking about it. This has to continually be updated. Iran’s had protests before and one of the biggest things is they can suppress the media, but they can’t suppress us here.”
The U.S. could also choose to put more economic pressure on Iranian leaders, said Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokesperson.
“Essentially, what’s happening is this regime has the money, they have the lifeblood to be able to harass these women, to harass anyone peacefully protesting and they will, more importantly, take that money and continue to fund terrorism around the region, (offering) all kinds of senior leadership safe harbor in Iran right now, as we speak,” Ortagus said.
On a smaller scale, pushing for the issue to remain a topic of national discussion — particularly as Iranian people lose the means to do so themselves — is “amazing,” Mafaher said.
“I think as Americans, sometimes we get scared that we’re going to say the wrong things and we should let the people speak (and) just amplify their voices,” Mafaher said. “But honestly, any Iranian person I’ve spoken to — from Iran — they’ve said, ‘I don’t care — anyone. If you’re a white woman, a Black woman, anyone. Just talk. No one’s going to get in trouble.”