A slew of protests erupted in Iran on Sunday over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, following her detention by the country’s morality police, as women protesters cut their hair and burnt hijabs to protest against the mandatory veiling of women, media reports said.
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist, shared a video of women cutting their hair on her social media account and wrote, “Iranian women show their anger by cutting their hair and burning their hijab to protest against the killing of #Mahsa_Amini by hijab police.”
“From the age of 7 if we don’t cover our hair we won’t be able to go to school or get a job. We are fed up with this gender apartheid regime,” she added.
In another tweet, an Iranian journalist shared visuals from the Tehran University and said that the students joined the protest against the killing of Mahsa Amini by “hijab police”. She also said that the Iranians were outraged. “Yesterday the security forces opened fire at protesters in Saghez city but now Tehran joined the protest,” Alinejad said in a tweet.
In a series of tweets, Alinejad shared another video on her Twitter handle and said that the “brave women” stormed the streets on the second day and chanted “Don’t be afraid, we are all united.” She also said that the security forces opened fire at protesters and injured some of them but this doesn’t stop the people from raising their voices against the wrongdoing.
As per Al Jazeera, Mahsa Amini, 22, was on a visit to Tehran with her family when she was detained by the specialist police unit. After a while, she suffered a heart attack and was immediately taken to hospital with the cooperation of the emergency services.
“Unfortunately, she died and her body was transferred to the medical examiner’s office,” state television said on Friday, reported Al Jazeera. The announcement came a day after Tehran police confirmed Amini had been detained with other women for “instruction” about the rules.
Human rights activists who have spoken to the family said the police grabbed Amini and forced her inside a police vehicle, CNN reported quoting IranWire. Her brother, Kiarash, intervened; however, the police told him that they are taking his sister to the police station for one hour of “re-education.”
Her brother waited outside the police station for her to be released. However, an ambulance pulled up and took his sister to the hospital. “The woman was sent to a Greater Tehran police precinct for guidance and education when suddenly, in the presence of other people, she had a heart attack,” the police said, reported CNN quoting state media.
Questioning the version of events given by police, Mahsa’s family said that she was normal with no pre-existing heart conditions.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International said, “The circumstances leading to the suspicious death in custody of 22-year-old young woman Mahsa Amini, which include allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, must be criminally investigated.”
“The so-called ‘morality police’ in Tehran arbitrarily arrested her three days before her death while enforcing the country’s abusive, degrading and discriminatory forced veiling laws. All agents and officials responsible must face justice,” it added.
Following the incident that sparked fury on social media, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi ordered the interior minister to open an inquiry into the case. Several lawmakers said they would raise the case in parliament, while the judiciary said it would form a special task force to investigate, reported Al Jazeera.
Amini’s death comes amid growing controversy both inside and outside Iran over the conduct of the morality police, known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrol). The mandatory dress code, which applies to all nationalities and religions, not just Iranian Muslims, requires women to conceal their hair and neck with a headscarf, reported Al Jazeera.
Over the decades, women have increasingly pushed back, particularly in the big cities, wearing their headscarves far back on their heads to reveal their hair. (ANI)