- Ali Hamidani
- BBC News
Protests by women over headscarves erupted in Iran during the funeral of Mahsa Amini, who died after being arrested by the “moral police” in Tehran on Tuesday.
Mahsa Amini, 22, died on Friday, days after her arrest, and witnesses said police beat her after they drove her into a car, allegations that Iranian police denied.
Some women reportedly took off their hijab (head covering) at Mahsa’s funeral, in protest of being forced to wear the hijab.
Mourners at the funeral chanted “Death to the dictator,” and videos afterwards showed police firing into a crowd.
The funeral took place in the town of Saqqaz, Mahsa’s hometown, in the western Kurdistan province.
According to videos posted on social media, residents of the area gathered in the early morning to prevent Iranian security forces from secretly storming the burial ceremony to avoid protests.
Reports indicate that some angry demonstrators marched towards the governor’s office to protest the death. According to videos received and verified by BBC Persian Service, security forces opened fire on protesters.
There were also reports of injuries and arrests. In videos posted on Twitter, security forces can be seen guarding the governor’s office and arresting protesters trying to approach the building.
A photo of Mahsa Amini’s tombstone was posted on social media. On the tomb is written: “You did not die. Your name will be a symbol.”
The morality police arrested Amini, on Tuesday, for allegedly failing to comply with the strict dress code regarding wearing a headscarf to cover the head.
According to eyewitnesses, she was beaten while in a police car and later fell into a coma.
Iranian police denied the allegations, saying Mahsa had “suffered a sudden heart attack”.
Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s hard-line president, asked the Interior Ministry to open an investigation into the causes of death.
The girl was admitted to Kesra Hospital, in northern Tehran, which later announced in a statement that she had arrived on September 13 and showed no “signs of life”.
The hospital later deleted the statement from its social media pages, after accusations by accounts of militants and regime loyalists that the hospital staff were “agents and against the regime.”
Iranian television also broadcast television footage of the girl, Amini, who is under arrest. Human rights activists accused state television of censoring the footage to create a false story.
NetBlocks, the cybersecurity and internet governance watchdog, said internet connectivity has been cut off in various locations in Iran since news of Mahsa Amini’s death surfaced, including in the capital, Tehran, and her hometown of Saqqaz.
Many users said they could not upload videos to Instagram or send content via WhatsApp.
Iran’s state newspaper Shargh reported that the extremely low internet speed in Tehran disrupted the stock market, on Saturday.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, women have been legally required to wear “Islamic” modest clothing. In practice, this means that women must wear a chador, a full-body abaya, or a headscarf and coat that covers their arms.
In recent years, Iran has witnessed several campaigns against the compulsory veil, but the Iranian morality police launched a campaign against women accused of not complying with the dress code, prompting opponents of this trend to demand action.
Recently, Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Eji, indicated that foreign powers were behind the campaign, and instructed the intelligence services to find “the hands behind the revealing headscarf.”
Earlier in the summer, the Iranian president also promised to crack down on “the promotion of organized corruption in Islamic society,” a direct reference to the crackdown.
In recent months, Iranian state television has shown televised confessions of women arrested for not following a strict dress code.
Many Iranians blame Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the crackdown. A letter attributed to him was circulated on social media, in which he praised the role of the morality police and the way they work.
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