London — While Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held a photo of General Qassim Soleimani on Wednesday at the podium of the United Nations General Assembly and mourned the US killing, Soleimani’s picture was being torn down in his home city of Kerman and set on fire by protesters. .
Protests against the Iranian regime broke out across the country last Friday following the suspicious death of a young woman who was arrested and detained for allegedly wearing a hijab by police three days earlier.
Mahsa Amini, 22, was on a trip to Tehran with her 16-year-old brother when the hijab police, also known as the “morality police,” arrested her for not wearing the outfit that fully complied with the hijab laws based on Sharia. country Despite her brother’s resistance, she was taken into custody only to be pronounced dead at a hospital three days later, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
The head of Tehran’s Forensic Medicine said Amini was suffering from an underlying condition. Her father denied those claims in an interview with the BBC.
As the news of Amini’s arrest went viral, criticism against hijab laws and moral police confrontations against women increased on social media.
Protests over the morality police soon developed after her death and she addressed a long list of actions by the Islamic Republic over the past four decades.
The first major protests began on September 17 during Amini’s funeral in Saqqez, her hometown in northwestern Iran.
Pictures of the burial protests went viral. The hashtag #MahsaAmini and her name in Farsi received 18 million mentions on Twitter and about 150 million on TikTok, making it the biggest trend on Persian Twitter, BBC Persian reported on Thursday.
Amjad Amini, Mahsa Amini’s father, said on Tuesday in an interview with the Iranian news website Emtedad that the police did not allow the family to see Mahsa Amini’s body. He could only check her daughter’s legs briefly and saw that they were bruised.
“The person who hit my daughter should be tried in a public court,” Amjad Amini told the outlet.
While Iran’s state television news program announced on Thursday that 17 people had been killed in the protests, the Iranian Human Rights group, IRH, said reported that at least 31 people had been killed until Thursday.
Videos shared on social media by the protesters show many women burning their headscarves in the streets. Many celebrities have taken off their hijab and shared the clips on social media.
In an act of solidarity, many men and women from different countries have shared videos of themselves cutting their hair and expressing their anger at Mahsa Amini’s death.
President Joe Biden said America supports the growing protests in his address to the United Nations on Wednesday.
“Today we stand with the brave citizens and women in Iran who are now demonstrating to achieve their basic rights,” Biden said.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has named Iran’s morality police “for abuse and violence against Iranian women and violating the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters.”
“Mahsa Amini was a brave woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against her own people,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement Thursday. “We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its continued violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”
For many Iranians, however, western countries negotiating with the Islamic Republic regarding the nuclear deal are giving the country an opportunity to buy time and continue the oppression, such words and movements are “too little, too late.”
“I gave up hope from the West. They have proven that they are only concerned with the nuclear program and not human rights,” Nina, a 35-year-old protester, told ABC News. reasons.
“I don’t want people in the West to forget us, especially now that the internet is cut or very slow,” said Nina. “Seeing people around the world listening and celebrities helping us to be heard keeps our spirits up.”
Sarah, 39, a protester from Tehran, said there was “a great mixture of anger, hope and fear” in the protests. “But it doesn’t matter, we will stay on the streets,” she said.
Referring to the main slogans of the protests in various cities, “woman, life, freedom,” and “death to the dictator,” said Sarah, who is also not using her real name because of fears for her safety, which the movement only addresses. restrictions on women.
“The slogans target the bases of the regime. They address the leader himself and say ‘shame’ to the country,” she said. “The most important thing is that these slogans are heard around the world.”
Although the Internet had been disrupted since the beginning of the protests, it was cut off or severely slowed down in the country on Wednesday, according to NetBlocks. In addition, WhatsApp and Instagram — the last social media outlets still accessible in Iran — were censored in an effort by the regime to restrict the spread of information even more severely.
“Our anger is certainly exceeding their power,” said Sarah. “I hope that people in different countries recognize this anger and that their government reaches out to them and stops negotiating with this regime.”