Dissident singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour’s new song Ashghal (Trash) has broken the record on Instagram in the past year with 35 million plays in the first 24 hours.
In 2022 Hajipour’s song “Baray-e Azadi” (For Freedom), which he composed by taking lines from protesters’ social media posts, turned into an anthem and unofficial manifesto of Iran’s Woman, Life, Freedom protests ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa (Jina) Amini in the custody of ‘morality’ or ‘hijab police’.
The song reflected people’s concerns about class gap, social pressures, economic worries, and environmental problems.
The impactful song which was played nearly 40 million times during the protests won him a Grammy for “Best Song for Social Change”. Protesters in Iran and their supporters around the world called the award a triumph for the anti-government protests.
In his new song Hajipour alludes to his troubles with authorities who have several times, including recently, summoned him to court and implied that they want him to leave Iran, but his message in the song is clear, he will not go.
“I’m that trash who didn’t have anyone to post bail for him, …
The one you got rid of one day,
Who is even not allowed to sing [in public] …
Leave, all of you, someday!
This trash will stay here to rebuild this city.
Do not ask me to leave this land.
Wherever I go, my heart will remain here,
I will keep my promise,
The son of Iran will not go back on his word.”
Hajipour was arrested in September 2022 and was released on bail in October, at the hight of anti-government protests that lasted several months. His lawyer, Majid Kaveh, said at the time that he had been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “inciting people to violence”.
Authorities allegedly subjected him to huge psychological pressures during and after his detention to post dictated content on social media and say he was sorry his song was being used by dissident political groups outside Iran. After winning the award he also said in a post he regretted that his award was presented, in absentia, by the US First Lady Jill Biden.
In his new Instagram post Friday which included his new song, Hajipour said he had no idea how long his “fear and uncertain circumstances” would continue.
“All I know is that I didn’t care whose lungs the polluted air affected, or which political faction’s supporters were empty-pocketed and poor, or who, leftist or right winger, would mourn the extinction of [Iranian cheetah] Pirouz when I wrote For [Freedom],” he wrote about what inspired him, adding that he knew, however, that “We, the ordinary people are victims of every kind of political extremism.”
“And I knew that protesting was necessary for growth and that it was not possible to solve problems without showing them. I knew that we ordinary people also have the right to be passionate about our country and think about its development,” he wrote. “But now, I think maybe I was wrong. Maybe they have a monopoly over the land, maybe the homeland does not belong to us ordinary people. Man is nothing without his homeland other than trash to be tossed.”