New mural illuminates women-led movement in Iran

ABC 10 News KGTV
ABC 10 News KGTV

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — There’s a new painted mural just off El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights shining light on what’s happening in Iran.

ABC 10News spoke with Thao French, one of the local female artists working to illuminate brave female faces in Iran.

“When people walk by I want them to almost be curious… and be like 'Who is this? Why is she so important?'” said French.

French painted the right half of the mural and another local female artist, Chloe Becky, painted the left half.

While Becky’s part shows an Iranian woman cutting her hair as an act of defiance, French’s part of the mural illustrates the face and spirit of 16-year-old Nika Shahkarami.

“I chose Nika because I remember seeing this video of her singing and being playful… and it just made me think of myself when I was a teenager because I was a little punk kid,” said French.

Shahkarami was arrested and killed after publicly protesting the regime and burning her hijab. Her death sparked outrage on social media, and she's become another face of the women-led movement in Iran.

“The flowers are to offer a proper funeral that she never had. The flames are for when she lit her hijab on fire and also a way to show that she’s rising from the ashes,” said French.

The mural already means a lot to Iranians here in San Diego.

“My cousin actually was shot at a protest in Iran last month,” one local Iranian woman told 10news.

She also shared that after her cousin was killed, her family was threatened by the regime.

“They said that we had to pretend he died of COVID instead, and we couldn’t say he was killed by security forces. So I think it shows that it’s not just my cousin or Nika Shahkarami… There are so many families that are grieving what’s going on,” she said.

French says she hopes the mural helps amplify the voices of Iranians fighting for freedom worldwide.

“I’m incredibly heartbroken for the world. An attack on humanity anywhere is an attack on everyone,” she said.

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