Fury grows in Iran over woman who died after hijab arrest

Published September 18, 2022
A man views a newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police” in Tehran, Iran , September 18, 2022.— Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters
A man views a newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police” in Tehran, Iran , September 18, 2022.— Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters

Protests persisted on Sunday and #MahsaAmini became one of the top hashtags ever on Persian-language Twitter as Iranians fumed over the death of a young woman in the custody of morality police enforcing strict hijab rules.

Amini, 22, died on Friday after falling into a coma following her arrest in Tehran earlier in the week, putting a spotlight on women's rights in Iran.

An undated picture obtained from social media shows Mahsa Amini.—IranWire/via Reuters
An undated picture obtained from social media shows Mahsa Amini.—IranWire/via Reuters

Police rejected social media suspicions that she was beaten, saying she fell ill as she waited with other detained women.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Sunday around the University of Tehran on Sunday, shouting "Woman, Life, Freedom", according to online videos.

Reuters could not verify the footage.

In Iran, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. Offenders face public rebuke, fines or arrest. But in recent months activists have urged women to remove veils despite the hardline rulers' crackdown on "immoral behaviour".

Surging hashtag

The Persian hashtag #MahsaAmini has now reached 1.63 million mentions on Twitter.

Amini was from Kurdistan, where there were also protests on Saturday, including at the funeral in her hometown Saqez. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have long put down unrest among the minority Kurds.

Police repressed the Saqez demonstrations, with videos posted online showing at least one man with a head injury. Reuters could not authenticate the videos.

Behzad Rahimi, a member of parliament for Saqez, told the semi-official ILNA news agency that a few people were wounded at the funeral. "One of them was hospitalised in the Saqez Hospital after being hit in the intestines by ballbearings," he said.

Kurdish rights group Hengaw said, however, that 33 people were injured in Saqez. Reuters could not independently confirm the number.

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