SAN JOSE — A visit to Nooshi Nayak’s hair salon in San Jose was always more than a cut and a blow-dry.
It’s an inviting place for men and women to visit, chat, talk about relationships, the neighborhood, or the news of the day.
And for Nooshi, who is Iranian-American, the talks have recently taken on a more serious tone when the subject turns to the struggle for women’s human rights unfolding in her home country.
It’s a cause close to his heart, as evidenced by his protest signs tucked away in a corner of the living room.
“This is not just a movement about a hijab covering your hair or people wanting to be free to drink alcohol. They don’t have clean water, they don’t have clean air. The pollution is so horrible in Iran,” Nooshi said. said.
Nooshi came to the United States as a student, but when the 1979 Islamic Revolution took place and Ayatollah Khomeini took power, she was never able to return home.
That’s why she now supports the protesters in Iran.
“My first reaction is to be so proud of all these women who are taking a huge risk to their freedom, their health, their lives to stand up for their rights – their human rights,” she said.
Protests erupted across Iran following the September death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” for not wearing the hijab as required by law.
Since then, outrage has spread across the world.
There have been protests across the United States and in the Bay Area, led by Iranian Americans.
“What excites us is ending 43 years of oppression against women,” said Dina Asna, one of the organizers of the protest.
Nooshi followed the developments and attended demonstrations. She informs her friends and long-time clients, even associates them.
“We can support them just by being aware and talking about it,” said Cynthia Frybarger, who was getting her hair done.
Nooshi hopes Iranian Americans can help build support for the United States, influence a positive outcome for Iranian women, and simply raise awareness of the struggle.
“I don’t like oppression and abuse. If there’s an opportunity to stand up against them, I will,” Nooshi said.
Hair salons and hair salons like Nooshi’s have a long history of being places where you can get the cuts and curls, and sometimes a little outspoken when it comes to world events.