Women in Iran are burning their hijabs in protest after a young woman died while in the custody of the country’s morality police, who are charged with enforcing the country’s dress codes.
Mahsa Amini had been detained by authorities Thursday while visiting relatives in Tehran. She had been arrested for wearing “unsuitable attire,” Reuters reports. According to members of her family and other eyewitness accounts, Amini was beaten by authorities following her arrest.
She died while in hospital on Friday, after three days in a coma.
State authorities have denied that Amini was beaten, and instead allege that she died of a heart attack.
Iranians across the country have been protesting since her death, many of them women, calling for reform of Iran’s theocratic laws, including strict dress codes which require women to remain largely covered while in public. The protests have been described as the largest since 2019, which occurred amid soaring gas prices.
“I’ve covered #Iran for 15 years and lived there for 25 yrs. I believe what we are witnessing now is nothing like before,” wrote BBC journalist Rana Rahimpour in a message posted on Twitter. The message was accompanied by an image of two women climbing on top of police cars, one of which was burning.
“Look at these two women,” she continues, “standing on top of police cars, shouting: we don’t want the Islamic Republic.”
I’ve covered #Iran for 15 years and lived there for 25 yrs. I believe what we are witnessing now is nothing like before. Look at these two women, standing on top of police cars, shouting: we don’t want the Islamic Republic… #Mahsa_Amini #MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/b90yteFuMt
— Rana Rahimpour (@ranarahimpour) September 20, 2022
Amnesty Internal, as reported by CNN, alleges that at least eight people have died in clashes between protesters and police. However, the BBC reports that there are conflicting reports regarding the death toll, which could be as high as 15.
Iran has been a theocracy since the revolution in 1979. Since that time, the government has enforced a strict code of morality, including with regards to women’s dress codes and homosexuality, which is punishable by death.
Earlier this month, two LGBTQ+ rights activists were sentenced to death for “promoting homosexuality.”