By Christopher Buchanan
TEHRAN, IRAN — Widespread protests and riots have swept the Iranian state and the world in the name of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman whose death in custody has raised questions about the current Iranian regime and their political consequences. Her death has ignited controversy over the Islamic Dress Code, which includes strict, mandatory legislation concerning modest and religiously significant headwear for women: the hijab.
22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 by the Iranian Guidance Patrol, otherwise known as the Morality Police, for alleged violation of the Islamic Dress Code. Amini had been improperly dawning her hijab so that her hair was slightly visible, so her arrest was confusing to many Iranians, considering the style is not uncommon.
Days later, on Sept. 16, Masha Amini had been pronounced dead following a trauma-induced coma while in police custody in Tehran, Iran. Amini’s death was captured on CCTV, where you can see her collapsing amidst her “re-education.” Iranian authorities have cited heart failure due to a previous condition as the reason for Amini’s death, though her family reported that 22-year-old Amini had no previous conditions whatsoever.
According to Amini’s mother, doctors told the family that Amini “had received a violent blow to the head.” It is believed by many Iranians and others that the Morality Police beat and assaulted Amini in the police van en route to her custody. Police have entirely denied these allegations; they remain committed to the theory of heart attack.
Amini’s father, Amjad Amid, also said that police disallowed the family from seeing the body. “They’re lying. They’re telling lies. Everything is a lie … no matter how much I begged, they wouldn’t let me see my daughter,” he said. On Sept. 17 at 10 a.m., a funeral was held for Amini. Amid also claims that at his daughter’s funeral he could only see her feet and face, as the rest of her body was concealed. He claimed afterwards he could see clear “bruising” on her feet.
“I have no idea what they did to her.” Amid stated.
The funeral took place in Saqqez, in the western province of Kurdistan. It has been suggested that during the ceremony, protests began with women taking off their own head scarves for Amini. The crowd reportedly began cheering “death to the dictator” and other anti-governmental sentiments before taking to the streets for a large demonstration of rebellion. This catalyzed an attempt to protest in front of the local governor’s office. The protest subsequently became violent, as reports and videos have shown security making arrests and even firing shots into the protesting crowd.
In the following days and weeks, protests have spread across the country throughout each of the 31 provinces, wherein citizens questioned the Iranian regime and their stance on gendered laws as a whole. Reportedly, there has been increased crackdowns on these protests that have resulted in political violence all around the country from police, thereby increasing citizen tensions. There have allegedly been mass arrests of journalists and celebrities alike; Tehran provincial governor Mohsen Mansouri claimed that Iran would “take action against the celebrities who have fanned the flames of the riot.”
The President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, said in a New York press conference following a UN general assembly that Iran would not tolerate any “acts of chaos,” but that the government was willing to allow peaceful protests. The Iranian government would even go so far as to restrict internet access in the country amidst protests until peace had returned.
As of Oct. 3, the crackdown has resulted in the deaths of 133 protestors and supporters according to the Iran Human Rights Organization.
The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Iran for their use of violence against citizens, as well as expressing their sympathies with the women of Iran. Protests have extended around the world from Brisbane to New York and extending to hundreds of other cities.
Thousands have expressed their sympathies and support for Iranian women in their resistance. Many have even expressed a desire for the Islamic regime to end, which took power in 1979 and has since created the politico-cultural standards which caused Amini’s arrest.
Los Angeles in particular has held multiple large demonstrations in solidarity with Iranian women. These protests have spread across West Hollywood, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks. Thousands gathered to march downtown towards the Los Angeles City Hall on Oct. 1 to express their distaste for the Iranian regime and demand that Iran take accountability for their involvement in Amini’s death.
Currently, there is still no officially confirmed cause for Mahsa Amini’s death.