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ODU Iranian Student Association hosts candlelight vigil amid protests at home

One student said she can't get in touch with her family after the Iranian government shut off the internet.

NORFOLK, Va. — Anti-government protestors are still taking to the streets in Iran.

For the past 11 days, they've been clashing with police, often being met with deadly force. At least 41 people have died since the demonstrations began.

All this comes after the suspicious death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She was arrested by Iran's so-called "Morality Police" for not wearing her headscarf correctly.

She died in custody days later.

Iranian authorities say she collapsed due to an underlying health condition, but her family believes she was killed.

RELATED: 'Iranian women are furious' over headscarf death, Iranian activist Masih Alinejad says

The protestors in Iran are gaining support around the world, even right here in Hampton Roads.

"This is not just an Iranian women’s issue, this is a women’s issue all around the world and more importantly, a human rights issue," said Roya Ardalan, the faculty advisor for Old Dominion University's Iranian Student Association.

More than 100 students, staff and community members joined together at ODU Monday night for a candlelight vigil. It was hosted by the Iranian Student Association. 

One member of the student association, who wished to be mentioned as Golbarg, said it’s equally as important for people outside of Iran to push for change.

"It’s our duty as Iranians outside of Iran to just let people know what happens in Iran. People in Iran just need help," she said.

Women across Iran have been protesting the country’s mandatory dress code by burning hijabs and cutting their hair on public streets.

It's something another member, who wished to be mentioned as Sama, felt called to do. She and two other students cut their hair on the steps of Kauffman Hall.

"I was full of anger. I could feel it all over my body," she said.

Both Sama and Golbarg have only been in the U.S. for about a year, but their entire families are back home in Iran.

Golbarg said the Iranian government has shut off the internet, meaning she can’t check on them.

"It’s been like about three days, four days, I haven’t heard anything about them and I’m really worried," she said.

Both women said the protests are not just about removing hijab laws, they want the entire government out.

"It started with protests of women’s rights, but it’s becoming a revolution," Golbarg said.

Experts and analysts say an end to the protests is more likely to come through the use of brute force than concessions.

The government has blamed western media for instigating the protests, alluding to foreign conspiracies.

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