Amid growing protests against the tyrannical government of Iran, following the wrongful death of Mahsha Amini following police brutality, a Persian version of the popular Italian protest song Bella Ciao is going viral. The song, which was associated with the works and days of the Italian communist resistance to Hitler’s Germans, became the song of Iranian women, against the Islamic regime of Tehran, when it was sung by the Iranian sisters Samin and Behin Bolouri and is widely shared on social media.
The cover was shared on Instagram by Samin and Behin Bolouri on September 16, the day Amini died after three days in hospital.
The Instagram post shared by the two sisters has garnered over two million views. It was also posted on Twitter by journalist Habib Khan, where it garnered thousands of views.
Commenting on the song, one Twitter user wrote: “Deep respect to the strong soul of the women of Iran.” Another person wrote: “I don’t know Farsi. But the harmony and the passion gave me chills.”
The ongoing protests in Iran began after the death of 22-year-old Amini, who was arrested in Tehran by the guidance patrol, popularly known as the morality police, on September 13 for not wearing the hijab properly. Within hours of her arrest, she had to be hospitalized and died after being in a coma for three days.
Police said Amini suffered a heart attack while in hospital. However, her family assures that Amini did not have any cardiovascular problems. Later, the leaked medical report showed that he suffered severe head injuries and a fractured skull.
After her death, more protests broke out in Iran against the morality police and the Iranian regime, with women publicly cutting their hair and burning their headscarves in defiance.
The short but important history of the song Bella Ciao
Every year on April 25, Bella Ciao is sung throughout Italy on the occasion of the Festa della Liberazione which marks the country’s liberation from German occupation and fascist rule at the end of World War II.
Bella Ciao dates back to the 19th century and was originally an Italian folk protest song, lamenting the harsh working conditions of laborers in the rice fields of northern Italy.
However, the lyrics of the song were modified in the 1940s to tell the story of a young man saying goodbye to his love (“goodbye beautiful”) to join the Italian guerrillas.
“And if I die as a rebel, then you must bury me / on the mountain / under the shadow of a beautiful flower / and all who pass by / will say to me “What a beautiful flower / this is the flower of the rebel / who died for freedom”.
The song was soon adopted as the anthem of the Italian partisans and today is sung worldwide as an anti-fascist anthem of freedom and resistance.