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Woman’s death fuels nation’s rage: Iran breaks out as 22-year-old dies after arrest in hijab

The death of a 22-year-old woman arrested last week by the Iranian moral police for allegedly not wearing the proper Islamic hijab sparked a wave of protests across the country.

The outbreak of internal political unrest and anti-regime anger at the death of Mahsa Amini coincides with the arrival of President Ebrahim Raisi in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly summit.

The fifth day of the Amini death protests erupted on Tuesday, with slight signs that the anger was waning. Protests have been reported in several cities, including Qazvin, Arak, and Mashhad. Protests also took place in the capital city of Tehran. A reformist news service published an interview with the victim’s father that provided new details about her detention by morals and raised disturbing questions about her death.

“When we went to the hospital, they didn’t let us see Mahsa,” Amjad Amini told a reformist website. Rouydad 24. “They covered her entire body so we couldn’t see the bruises. All I could see was my daughter’s face and the soles of her feet. But of course I saw the bruises on Mahsa’s feet.

Protests against Amini’s death also raged in the western Kurdish provinces of which Amini, an ethnic Kurd, hailed. Demonstrators chanted against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and ripped off the flags and insignia of the Islamic Republic.

There have been reports of dramatic violence and chaos, often documented in short, shaky video clips uploaded to the internet despite apparent bandwidth constraints in some regions.

In one of the videos, you can see and hear Iranian women clapping and chanting quietly until the motorcycle, possibly led by a regime guard, causes panic and screams as the women run. In another episode, a megaphone commander warns protesters to disperse as dozens of black-clad riot policemen gather around the police car and prepare to cleanse the people.

Video footage from western Iran on Tuesday showed what appeared to be a dead young child was hurriedly picked up by protesters after allegedly being shot dead by security forces.

Iranian security forces tried to suppress the demonstrations with tear gas, water cannons, and raiders, as well as sending pro-regime paramilitary agents to mobs of protesters who sometimes responded with retaliation with stones and setting fire to police vehicles. The videos showed protesters throwing stones at fleeing police and civilians Basij, a voluntary paramilitary militia.

“I will kill, I will kill the one who killed my sister,” they chanted. “Death to the Islamic Republic.”

A protestor from the Iranian National Resistance Council gestures during a demonstration over the death of Mahsa Amini

(EPA)

According to unofficial reports, at least two people have died. The authorities downplay the protests and say they are exaggerated and aggravated by foreign media channels, including the Persian-speaking service BBC.

Analysts said it was too early to judge whether the protests would threaten regime stability. Authorities have used violence and arrests to suppress protest movements in 1999, 2009 and 2019, as well as sporadic eruptions of labor, student, ethnic and regional unrest in recent years.

While protests in recent years have focused on specific economic complaints, the focus on the hijab and the role of security forces in the systematic harassment of Iranian women makes protests qualitatively different, with women in the lead.

“There was a fire, triggered by the hijab issue, and most of the protests were directed by students and women,” said Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Iran’s domestic policy expert at the American Council on Germany. “It was not due to socio-economic degradation. It was caused by socio-cultural claims ”.



The regime will respond with an iron fist and they will probably crush it

Ali Fathollah-Nejad

The protests are distinguished by outbursts of solidarity between groups, often at odds with each other, with men filling the ranks of female-led protests, and urban elites expressing support for ethnic Kurds, often viewed as a subclass in Iran.

Still, analysts admitted that the protests remained too small and scattered to challenge a regime that has deep layers of security forces that it has yet to deploy.

“The regime will respond with an iron fist and they will probably crush it,” said Fathollah-Nejad. “As is usual with these protests, there is no organization or leadership that prevents them from becoming a threat.”

This latest wave of street protests began after Amini’s arrest on September 13 by horrific “advisory patrols” as she visited Tehran from her hometown, the ethnic Kurdish enclave of Saghez. According to her father, she was with her 16-year-old brother at the time and was accosted by the morality police as she left the subway station. She pleaded with the police not to separate her from her brother, but they refused.

Mr. Amini said Rouydad 24 that there was a physical argument during her quarrel in the street. “One of the officers pushes Mahsa and physically attacks her,” he reportedly said. Other women in the police vehicle she was later put into allegedly told him that Mahsa had been attacked by security forces.

She was taken to hospital on September 15 after an alleged collapse at Vozar’s detention center, where alleged moral crimes are being investigated in Tehran.

The news of her death sparked protests outside the hospital that spread across the country. Analysts say death met Iranians because Amini was not a political activist or journalist – just a young woman going about her life. In this sense, some have compared the death and the resulting confusion to the case of George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of the US police in 2020 led to riots across the country.

A police motorcycle burns during the Mahsa Amin death protest in Tehran

(via REUTERS)

“The point is that she is a young woman and a completely ordinary person,” said Azadeh Pourzand, an Iranian researcher at the School for Oriental and Asian Studies in London and former Tehran resident. “Each of us has gone through Vozara at least once. Every Iranian woman in Tehran was taken to Vozara because of the veil. So it resonates with a lot of people. “

Senior Iranian officials called for an investigation into the death of the young woman, but also said she had collapsed herself, possibly due to a congenital disease, which her father rejected.

The openness of the family is also remarkable and may have helped strengthen the Amini movement. Typically, regime officials threaten or offer inducements to family members of victims to silence them. The Amini family did not give in to pressure to remain silent, and at the same time showed political flair by talking to national media rather than to foreign satellite channels.

“They said Mahsa has heart disease and epilepsy, while I, who are her father and raised her for 22 years, say out loud that Mahsa had no disease and was in perfect health,” said Amini. Rouydad 24. “The person who hit my daughter should be judged. I will not let my daughter’s blood be trampled on. “

Raisi, who admitted to playing a role in the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in the late 1980s, was already a controversial figure in the West and often avoided in international fora. The recent riots are likely to affect his reputation, although he is scheduled to meet European Union officials on the fringes of the General Assembly this month.

“If Raisi were to be considered to meet any Western leaders, it would be even less of a priority and he would become even more toxic,” said Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi of the Royal United Services Institute. “The protests will hinder engagement or bilateral relations between Iran and European leaders.”

Some Iranian activists have called on the West to take a tougher stance on Iran over Amini’s death. Both the White House and the US State Department issued condemnations. Many are outraged that Raisi is about to stand before the United Nations, while others are calling for an end to talks to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear accord that would offer a relaxation of sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its technology agenda.

“They are murderers – you can’t sit at the table, negotiating and talking to them,” said Darya Safai, a deputy from the Belgian parliament that focuses on Iran, in an interview. “JCPOA and talks with ayatollahs will not be possible. We cannot give them an instrument to survive. “

An Iranian newspaper tells of Amini’s death at the hands of Iranian security forces

(BY REUTERS)

Ms Tabrizi said she doubts that the homicide or subsequent riots were influencing efforts to restore the JCPOA, which appeared to be in trouble anyway. In any case, the Iranians may not count on international aid in their search.

“What is so beautiful about Iran today is that women are not waiting for a savior,” said Ms Pourzand. “They realize that they are on their own and must take control and decide their own fate.”

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