Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, died after being arrested by the morality police for alleged failure to follow the Islamic dress code.
Before being arrested by the morality police outside a metro station, Amini was visiting Tehran with her brother, wearing a headscarf and long coat. Tehran police allegedly claimed that she had “suddenly” suffered from a “heart attack” and was “immediately” brought to a hospital nearby.
The morality police is a unique brand of authority in Iran that upholds and promotes virtue. Police involved in the incident denied any physical violence shown towards Amini. CCTV footage shows Amini receiving a morality lesson when she collapsed on the ground after talking to a female police officer.
Photos of Amini in a coma circulated on social media and have caused public outcry about the issue at authorities over the mishandling of the situation and the intense crackdown on young women. According to the Financial Times, Amini’s uncle, Vafa Aa’eli, told them: “our innocent Zhina died.”
Iranian authorities see the hijab as a defining symbol of Islamic rule. However, recently many pro-reform women have pushed back against it. They claim it to be a symbol of oppression. Many young women can be seen in the streets of Iran without a headscarf to record protests. However, there is footage circulating the internet which displays violence by security forces shown towards young women without hijabs and arresting them.
Amini’s mother told radio Farda that Amini was “healthy,” insinuating Amini would not have suffered from heart attacks. She also insisted that Amini’s clothing and makeup followed regulations. Before Amini’s death, her mother said: “She was taken by force . . . they have to explain what her crime was.”
Iran’s Interior Minister and parliamentary speakers ordered an investigation. Iran President Ebrahim Raisi has also asked for an investigation into the incident. Judiciary formed a special team to examine Amini’s legal files to look into the reasoning for her death and whether her transport to the hospital was the reason for her death.
Numerous women, such as Sepideh Rashno, have been arrested for allegedly not following the guidelines and dress code.
Since the death of Amini, multiple protests have broken out in the Kurdish region. According to the Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights, 250 people were arrested in the different protests held in 13 cities. Hengaw also released the names of the three people who they claim have been killed during the protests, one taking place in Amini’s hometown of Saqez. However, the reports cannot be independently verifiable, and there has been no official confirmation of the deaths of the individuals.
Edited by Sara Irfan
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