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Grammys 2023: Iranian singer wins Best Song for Social Change 

Iranian singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour [Twitter]
Iranian singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour [Twitter]

Iranian singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour won the inaugural Best Song for Social Change award at the 2023 Grammys yesterday. Hajipour's protest song "Baraye" was released after the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody last September. It became a viral anthem during the subsequent protests in Iran, racking up to 40 million views online in just two days.

The 25-year-old was arrested shortly after posting his song online, but is currently out on bail awaiting trial on charges that can carry as many as six years in prison; he is also banned from leaving the country and was thus unable to attend the Grammys ceremony.

The award was presented by US First Lady Jill Biden, who said: "A song can unite, inspire and ultimately change the world… 'Baraye' is a song that became the anthem of the Mahsa Amini protests, a powerful and poetic poem for freedom and women's rights."

The category for social change, for which 130,000 songs were submitted originally, was introduced this year to honour songs that respond to current issues and have the potential for positive global impact. Following the win, Hajipour wrote simply on Instagram: "We won."

Iran has been rocked by nationwide unrest following the death of Amini on 16 September in police custody. The protests have posed one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. She was arrested by morality police for flouting the hijab policy, which requires women to dress modestly and wear headscarves. Women have played a prominent role in the protests, many of them waving or burning their headscarves.

Rights groups say more than 500 protesters have been killed and nearly 20,000 arrested. At least four have been executed by the authorities, according to the Iranian judiciary.

READ: Iranian musician faces jail over women dancers and singers

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