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Iranian Women Burn Hijab And Cut Hair To Protest Death Of Mahsa Amini In 'Moral Police' Custody

Women throughout Iran have been posting videos of themselves on social media, cutting their hair and burning their hijabs in response to the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini. She was detained by the Iranian police allegedly for not wearing the hijab or headscarf in a proper manner, and died during detention. Protests broke out in Iran as a result of her death. Amini was detained after the Iranian police found fault with her hijab. She was reportedly beaten by the police.

The Iranian police have denied the allegations and claim that she died of a heart attack. However, Amini's relative confirmed that she had no history of heart disease.

What Happened To Mahsa Amini?

Mahsa Amini was detained earlier this week by "morality police" officers after reportedly finding fault with her hijab or headscarf. Police have cited Amini as having suffered a heart attack. Still, pro-reform news websites have quoted her uncle as not having a history of heart disease.

The BBC reports that the morality police detained Amini outside a metro station in Tehran. The police claim she broke the law, which requires women to cover their hair with a headscarf and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

According to police, Amini suffered "sudden heart failure" while waiting to be "educated" with other women at the facility. On Friday, state television declared her dead after she spent three days in a coma. Soon after, a crowd gathered outside the Kasra hospital in central Tehran.

The interior minister of Iran claimed that Amini had "previous physical problems", but her father told pro-reform news outlets that his daughter was "fit and healthy."

It was noted that Amini's legs had been bruised and that the CCTV footage showed an "edited version" of events. In response, president Ebrahim Raisi ordered the interior minister to open an inquiry into the incident.

Iran Women Cut Hair, Burn Hijab To Protest Death Of 22-Year-Old In Custody

The Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad tweeted a compilation of several videos along with the caption, "Iranian women demonstrate their anger by cutting their hair and burning their hijab in protest against the killing of #Mahsa_Amini by hijab police."

"From the age of 7, if we don't cover our hair, we won't be able to go to school or get a job. We are fed up with this gender apartheid regime," Alinejad added [1].

Even as protests continue in Iran over the killing of Mahsa Amini, there are unverified pictures on Twitter of a female protestor who was allegedly shot at by the cops in the country.

Video of Mahsa Amini:

The Issue Of 'Morality Police'

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, women in Iran have been required to wear a headscarf, and members of the morality police enforce the strict dress code [2]. As a result of the morality police in Iran, women are required to wear hijabs (headscarves) in public. The morality police also ban tight trousers, ripped jeans, brightly coloured outfits and clothes exposing knees.

Amini's death has impeded many Iranian women from removing their headscarves, cutting their hair, and burning their hijabs in protest. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has supported a softer stance toward women who do not adhere to the official dress code.

Hard-liners have argued that allowing women to display their hair leads to moral decay and family disintegration. The judiciary has in recent years urged people to report women who do not wear the hijab.

Authorities have adopted tougher measures since 2017 after dozens of women publicly removed their headscarves in a wave of protests.

In response to the growing controversy regarding the conduct of the morality police, known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad or Guidance Patrol, parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has called for an investigation into the police unit's actions.

"In order to prevent a repetition of such cases, the processes and the method of implementation in guidance patrols... should be investigated," he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

The Organisation for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, established to promote good behaviour and prevent immoral activities, said police should not arrest people for breaking dress code regulations [2].

Iran Women Cut Hair, Burn Hijab To Protest Death Of 22-Year-Old In Custody

Other Countries Condemn the Death of Mahsa Amini

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, described Mahsa Amini's "unacceptable" death as a "killing" following her injuries while in police custody.

Mahsa Amini's death was condemned by France as "deeply shocking" while calling for a "transparent investigation" to illuminate the circumstances surrounding her death.

A statement from the UN condemned Mahsa Amini's death, saying, "Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif expressed her alarm at Mahsa Amini's death in custody... and the violent response by security forces to the protests that followed."

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