A Woman’s Death Has Sparked Protests In Iran After She Was Held By ‘Morality Police’ For Not Wearing A Hijab

‘She is becoming a symbol of resistance against gender apartheid,’ one Iranian journalist wrote on Twitter.

Iran protests

by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

A woman has died after being detained by so-called ‘morality police’ in Iran for not wearing a hijab, sparking days of protests in Tehran and western Iran. Mahsa Amini, 22, fell into a coma hours after being held by police and died in hospital three days later. Witnesses accused officers of beating her, but Tehran’s police chief has denied all wrongdoing.

Mahsa, an ethnic Kurd from the western city of Saqez, was detained outside a metro station on Tuesday last week. Morality police accused her of breaking the law that requires women to cover their hair with a headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

Those at the scene say she was put in a police van, where she was beaten, and then taken to a detention centre. Denying the claim, police say Mahsa suffered ‘sudden heart failure’ while waiting at a facility aimed to ‘educate’ women. Police have since released CCTV footage that shows a woman they identified as Mahsa with a female official, who grabs her clothing before Mahsa is seen holding her head in her hands and collapsing to the ground.

Mahsa’s father, Amjad Amini, has told news outlets that he believed the footage is ‘edited’, stating that his daughter was ‘fit and had no health problems’. He accused police of not transferring her to hospital promptly enough, and that when he arrived at hospital, he was not allowed to view the body but was able to get a quick glimpse that showed bruising on her foot.

‘I asked for access to (videos) from cameras inside the car as well as courtyard of the police station, but they gave no answer,’ he said. Police Brigadier-General, Hossein Rahimi, told reporters that Mahsa suffered no physical harm, claiming ‘The evidence shows that there was no negligence or inappropriate behaviour on the part of the police.’

On the day of Mahsa’s funeral, protests erupted and have since continued. Security forces reportedly opened fire on a crowd, with clashes between protesters and riot police in Sanandaj, Kurdistan’s capital, occurring over the weekend. Social media posts show crowds throwing stones and then running after coming under fire, while other footage shows women removing their headscarves and shouting ‘death to the dictator’ (a chant said to be used in reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.)

Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, says at least 38 people have been injured at the protests, and two have died following incidents on Monday night. Devastatingly, they state that a 10-year-old girl was shot in the head in Bukan, a city in West Azerbaijan province.

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