October 1, 2022

Protests spread across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini after the young woman was arrested by moral police, and at least eight people were killed in the crackdown, according to the combined death toll.

Public outrage has flared in the Islamic Republic since authorities announced Friday the death of 22-year-old Amina, who was detained for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an “inappropriate” manner. Activists said the woman, whose Kurdish name is Jhina, suffered a fatal blow to the head, a claim denied by officials who announced the investigation.

Some protesters defiantly removed their hijabs and burned them on bonfires or symbolically cut their hair before cheering on the crowd, according to videos that have gone viral on social media.

Iran Protest
In this Sept. 20, 2022 photo taken by a person not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP from outside Iran, a trash can burns as police arrive during protests over the death of a young woman who was arrested for violating a conservative dress code in downtown Tehran, Iran.


“No scarf, no turban, for freedom and equality!” protesters in Tehran were heard chanting at the rally, which was followed by solidarity protests abroad, including in New York and Istanbul.

Iranian state media reported on Wednesday that, in the fifth night of street rallies that have spread to 15 cities, police used tear gas and made arrests to disperse crowds of up to 1,000 people.

London-based human rights group Article 19 said it was “deeply concerned by reports of unlawful use of force by Iranian police and security forces,” including the use of live ammunition.

Protesters threw stones at security forces, set fire to police vehicles and trash cans and shouted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said, adding that rallies were held in cities including Mashhad, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz.

“Death to the dictator” and “Woman, life, freedom,” protesters could be heard shouting in the video, which has spread outside Iran, despite network restrictions reported by internet access monitor Netblocks.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke publicly on Wednesday without mentioning the spreading unrest, and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi was due to address the UN General Assembly in New York later in the day.

Germany Iran protests
Exiled Iranians from the National Council of Resistance of Iran gather outside the Iranian embassy in Berlin, Germany, on September 20, 2022, following the death of an Iranian woman held by the “morality police”.

Michael Sohn/AP

“social crisis”

The wave of protests over Amini’s death “is a very significant shock, it is a social crisis,” said Iran expert David Rigoulet-Roze of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

“It is difficult to know the outcome, but there is a disconnect between the authorities with their DNA of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and an increasingly secularized society,” he said.

“It is a whole social project that is being questioned. There is hesitation among the authorities about the way forward for this movement.”

Center for Human Rights in Iran, based in New York described her death as a “preventable tragedy”.

“Mahsa Amini is one of the countless victims of the Islamic Republic’s war on women,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the group’s executive director. “She was arrested under the guise of the state’s mandatory hijab law and died shortly thereafter. The government is responsible for her death and decades of abuse, imprisonment and other harm to women under the guise of this discriminatory, inhumane law.”

Protests first erupted on Friday in Amini’s home province of Kurdistan, where Governor Ismail Zarei Koosha said on Tuesday that three people had been killed in a “hostile plot”.

Kurdistan Police Commander Ali Azadi announced the death of another person on Wednesday, Tasnim news agency reports.

Two more protesters were “killed during riots” in Kermanshah province, regional prosecutor Shahram Karami said, Fars news agency reported, blaming “counter-revolutionary agents”.

In addition, the Norwegian-based Kurdish human rights group Hengaw said two protesters, aged 16 and 23, were killed overnight in West Azerbaijan province.

An additional 450 people were wounded and 500 arrested, the group said – figures that could not be independently verified.

A video has gone viral online showing security forces opening fire on protesters in the southern city of Shiraz, where protests continued into the early hours of the morning.

Amini’s death and Iran’s response to the protests drew condemnation from the United Nations, the United States, France and other countries. The protests are among the most serious in Iran since unrest in November 2019 over rising fuel prices.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Tuesday condemned what he called “foreign interventionist positions.”

“It is regrettable that some countries are trying to use the incident under investigation as an opportunity to achieve their political goals and desires against the government and people of Iran,” he said.

Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepur warned of internet restrictions on Wednesday, citing “security issues these days,” ISNA news agency reported.

Article 19 said it was “alarmed by the local internet shutdown”, recalling that in 2019 the authorities “used the darkness of the shutdown to kill, maim and arrest protesters and bystanders with impunity”.

Iran Protest
In this Sept. 19, 2022, photo taken by a person not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP from outside Iran, women run from riot police during protests over the death of a young woman who was detained for violating a conservative code dressing in the country, in the center of Tehran, Iran.


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