Protests in New Iran over the death of a woman after being arrested by ‘morality police’

Protests in New Iran over the death of a woman after being arrested by ‘morality police’

Fresh protests erupted Monday in Iran over the death of a young woman who was arrested by “morality police” who enforce a strict dress code, local media reported.

Public anger has grown since authorities announced on Friday the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in hospital after three days in a coma, after Tehran’s morality police arrested her during a visit to the capital on 13 September.

Demonstrations were held in Tehran, including in several universities, and in the second city of Mashhad, according to Fars and Tasnim news agencies.

Protesters marched down Hijab Street – or “scarf street” – in central Tehran denouncing the morality police, ISNA news agency reported.

“Several hundred people chanted slogans against the authorities, some took off their hijab,” Fars said, adding that “the police arrested some people and dispersed the crowd using batons and tear gas” .

A short video released by Fars showed a crowd of several dozen people, including women who had removed their headscarves, shouting “Death to the Islamic Republic!”

A “similar meeting” was taking place in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Tasnim agency reported.

On Sunday, police made arrests and fired tear gas in the dead woman’s home province of Kurdistan, where about 500 people protested, breaking some car windows and torching trash cans, reports said.

– Anger –

Morality police units enforce a dress code in the Islamic Republic that requires women to wear headscarves in public.

Tight trousers, ripped jeans, clothes that expose the knees and brightly colored clothes are also prohibited.

Police insisted there was “no physical contact” between officers and the victim.

Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi said on Monday that the woman violated the dress code, and her colleagues asked her relatives to bring her “decent clothes”.

He again rejected “unfair allegations against the police” and said “the evidence shows that there was no negligence or inappropriate behavior on the part of the police”.

“This is an unfortunate incident and we want to never see anything like this happen again.”

Students gathered at Tehran and Shahid Beheshti universities, demanding “clarification” of how Amini died, according to Fars and Tasnim news agencies.

A spokesman for the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Amini’s “unacceptable” death was a “murder” following the injuries she suffered in police custody.

The crimes must be held accountable and the Iranian authorities must respect the rights of its citizens, the spokesperson said in a statement.

France said her death was “extremely horrific” and called for a “transparent investigation … to bring to light the circumstances of this tragedy”.

Amini’s death has led to calls for an end to police crackdowns on women suspected of violating the dress code, in effect since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Filmmakers, artists, athletes and political and religious figures took to social media to express their anger.

President Ebrahim Raisi, an ultra-conservative former judiciary chief who came to power last year, has ordered an inquiry into Amini’s death.

– Disturbed father –

State television on Friday aired a short surveillance video that showed a woman identified as Amini collapsing in the police station after an argument with a policeman.

Amjad Amini, the victim’s father, told Fars “he did not accept what (the police) showed him”, insisting that “the film has been cut”.

He also criticized the “slow response” of the emergency services, adding: “I believe Mahsa was transferred to hospital late.”

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday that he had received reports that the emergency services had arrived “immediately” at the scene.

“Mahsa seems to have had physical problems before and we have reports that she underwent brain surgery at the age of five,” said Vahidi.

However, her father insists that “his daughter had no history of illness and was in perfect health”, reported Fars.

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