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Why are women burning their hijabs in protest in Iran?

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LONDON — Protests led by women have erupted throughout Iran following the demise of a 22-year-old girl in police custody.

Mahsa Amini, from Kurdistan, was visiting Tehran on Sept. 13 when she was detained by Iran’s so-called “morality police,” reportedly for violating the costume code. According to Sky News, Amini was advised by the authorities that she was carrying her scarf too loosely. She died on Sept. 16 after three days in a coma.

Activists and Amini’s household declare that she died from accidents sustained from a beating by police. Authorities in Iran, nonetheless, deny any mistreatment and declare that Amini suffered “sudden heart failure.”

Protesters raise three identical pictures of Mahsa Amini.

Protesters in entrance of Dom Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, maintain pictures of Mahsa Amini on Sept. 21 after her demise in police custody in Iran. (Ying Tang/NurPhoto by way of Getty Images)

The information of Amini’s demise sparked anger nationwide, and 1000’s of Iranians took to the streets. As of Thursday, protests had unfold to a minimum of 80 cities and cities throughout Iran. State tv has quoted the demise toll in the clashes at 17, however a human rights group says that a minimum of 31 have been killed.

On Tuesday, footage circulated on social media of women burning their hijabs in demonstrations and of a woman cutting off her hair in an act of public defiance. A wave of movies has been posted on-line of women reducing their hair in solidarity.

In response, the Iranian authorities shut off internet access to a number of mobile networks and blocked entry to quite a few Western apps, together with Instagram and WhatsApp.

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on leaders of army and police forces in Iran. “Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen wrote in the assertion.

The Treasury assertion added: “These officials oversee organizations that routinely employ violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists, and members of the Iranian Baha’i community.”

Iranian demonstrators gather around a blaze in the middle of a wide thoroughfare.

A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran on Sept. 21 shows demonstrators burning a garbage can in the capital, Tehran, at a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. (AFP via Getty Images)

The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, called for Amini’s death to be investigated, in response to reports that the morality police beat Amini with a baton. “Miss Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and the truth,” the statement read.

Amini’s father, Amjad Amini, told BBC Persian that he was not allowed to see his daughter’s body, which had been wrapped for burial, leaving only her feet and face visible. “There had been bruises on her toes,” he said. He added that the authorities were “lying” in claiming that his daughter had suffered from poor health. “She has not been to any hospital in any respect in the previous 22 years, aside from for a number of cold-related sicknesses,” he stated.

But what are the legal guidelines surrounding hijabs? At the top of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran’s authorities imposed a costume code that required all women to put on what they deemed as “proper” clothes. This included a headband and loose-fitting clothes.

Before this, women had been free to determine whether or not or to not put on a hijab, with some bowing to household strain or following custom. In cost of imposing these costume codes had been the “Gasht-e Ershad” (Guidance Patrols), also known as “morality police.”

Young men wearing their hair long enough to reach their collars hold hands to form a protective ring around women raising their hands in protest.

Protected by young men, a group of young women protest having to wear the veil at a march in central Tehran on March 10, 1979, on the third day of demonstrations for women’s rights in the Islamic Republic of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. (Bettmann Archive via Getty Images)

“Women who do not wear the hijab can be fined or imprisoned,” Tara Sepehri Far, the Iran and Kuwait researcher of Human Rights Watch, advised Yahoo News.

“And for 40 years, women have been resisting it through individual collective acts of resistance. I think over the past 10 years or so, this has become part of the mainstream political discourse. For the past five years, we have seen more acts of defiance by people who actually take it as activism.”


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