The death of Mahza Amini, a 22-year-old girl who was arrested by Iranian religious police and left in a coma, has sparked unrest in Iran and a wave of outrage on Persian-language social media. Demonstrations took place in front of Tehran University on Sunday and in Zaghess, Iranian Kurdistan, the day before the woman’s arrival.
Officials have started an investigation into the case Death of Mahsa Amini State media Reuters reported after Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi made the request. According to the police, a 22-year-old youth who was waiting with other women detained at Aramorami police station suffered a heart attack. “There has been no physical contact with her since she was transferred to the vehicle and the police station,” police said, dismissing allegations on social media that Amini may have been assaulted.
However, witnesses in custody in Tehran on Tuesday say the woman was beaten by police in a police car. Amini’s family, quoted by the BBC, explained that he was a young, healthy person who did not suffer from any medical conditions that could explain the sudden heart problems.
Protests after Mahza Amini’s death
The woman’s death caused an uproar on Iranian social media. The hashtag with the deceased’s surname is one of the most popular in Persian language Twitter.
Iranians are also protesting in the city streets. On Sunday, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of Tehran University, where – according to records on protest sites – chants of “woman, life, freedom” were chanted. On Saturday, a crowd protested at the funeral of 22-year-old Amini in Saghesa, Kurdistan, Iran. Iranian media and non-governmental organizations cited by Reuters said up to several dozen people could be injured as a result of the services’ intervention.
As in previous demonstrations, authorities restricted internet access in the nation’s capital to make it more difficult for protesters to post on social networks, Reuters said.
Several prominent Iranians have commented on Amini’s death on social media, and prominent reformist politician Mahmoud Sadeghi has called out Iran’s spiritual-political leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Twitter. He recalled condemning the killing of George Floyd by US police in 2020.
The US special envoy to Iran, Robert Malle, said on Twitter: “The death of Mahza Amini following her injuries while in custody for an ‘inappropriate’ hijab (headscarf – version) is appalling.” Those responsible for his death must be held accountable,” he pointed out.
In recent months, Iranian activists have encouraged women to remove their hijabs in public. Videos of other examples of religious police brutality against women began to surface on social media.
Under Iranian (Islamic) Sharia law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women must cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting dresses to cover their figure. Violators of the law are subject to public censure, fines or arrest.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
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