Feb 6, 2023, 12:20pm EST
Middle East

A viral Iranian protest song won a Grammy. Here’s why it’s a big deal


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The News

A song first posted to Instagram last year quickly became a viral anthem in support of the protests in Iran. Now, it’s won a Grammy.

Baraye, by Iranian pop singer Shervin Hajipour who was arrested during the protests, won the first-ever Best Song For Social Change Award, a new Grammy category overseen by a blue-ribbon committee.

After Hajipour first posted Baraye on Instagram, the song was seen more than 40 million times in less than two days, according to the Grammys.

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Step Back

The lyrics to Baraye, which translates to “for” or “because of” in Farsi, are taken from social media posts from people explaining why they are protesting.

The lyrics include lines such as, “Because of dancing in the streets,” “Because of every time we were afraid to kiss our lovers,” “Because of yearning for a normal life.”


It was released in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly, and later died in the custody of the morality police.

Since thousands took to the streets across Iran to protest the country’s regime and call for change, over 19,000 people have been arrested and several have been executed.

U.S. first lady Jill Biden, who presented the award onstage Sunday, called the song “a powerful and poetic call for freedom and women’s rights.”

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The View From Iran

Like many other Iranian artists and activists, Hajipour was also arrested after his song went viral. He is currently out on bond and awaiting trial, according to reports, and could not attend the ceremony in Los Angeles.

Video posted to social media showed Hajipour celebrating with his friends as he won.


In one of his first messages since since being arrested, Hajipour simply wrote on Twitter and Instagram: “We won.”

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The Reaction

The Center for Human Rights in Iran said it “rejoiced with Iranians” after Baraye won, and pointed out that two other Iranian rappers have been jailed for joining the protests.

Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad said she “screamed with delight” over the win. “Shervin Hajipour’s Baraye, is about the grievances of Iranians who long for a normal life. This is the soundtrack of revolution.”

In response to Hajipour’s Instagram post celebrating the award, Iranian-American scientist, Firouz Michael Naderi, responded: “You won ... So we won ... So Iran won.”