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Why are women in Iran taking off hijabs, cutting their hair?

Vivek Mishra
Vivek MishraSep 19, 2022 | 12:32

Why are women in Iran taking off hijabs, cutting their hair?

Members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NWRI) demonstrate in front of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin. (Getty Images)

Women in Iran were seen removing their hijabs, and some even chopping off their hair as a protest over the death of a young woman in the custody of the country's morality police.

Iranian police had to fire tear gas on Saturday to disperse a protest rally at the funeral of Mahsa Amini.

A newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, the woman who died after being arrested by Iran's morality police. (Reuters Photo)

Protests broke out in western Iran on Saturday at the funeral of a young woman who died after being detained by morality police enforcing strict hijab (headscarf) rules, as security forces used tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

Videos posted on social media showed protesters shouting anti-government slogans. "Death to the dictator" - a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanted some protesters, while police fired tear gas, reported Reuters.

 

What happened? Mahsa Amini, 22, was on a visit with her family to the Iranian capital when she was detained by the police unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women, which include the compulsory wearing of the headscarf in public, reported AFP.

Amini was detained by Iran's morality police for allegedly not complying with the country's hijab regulations. The police have said that Amini had died of a heart attack. The police have also released CCTV footage from the police station, which they say shows the moment Amini collapsed. A relative has said she had no history of heart disease, reported AP.

Amini died on Friday after falling into a coma. The 1500tavsir channel, which monitors violations in Iran, said Amini had suffered a blow to the head.

The protests: According to the Fars report, after Amini's funeral in the city of Saqez, about 460 kilometers (280 miles) west of the capital, Tehran, some protesters gathered in front of the governor's building, chanting slogans.

Protests spread later on Saturday to the provincial capital, Sanandaj, with social media videos showing crowds chanting "Saqez is not alone, it's supported by Sanandaj", reported AFP.

Videos shared on social media showed protesters gathering near the University of Tehran, raising slogans like "Woman, Life, Freedom". Several women were seen taking off their hijabs. Some women also posted videos on social media of themselves chopping off their hair.

Several injured: More than 30 Iranians were injured, some seriously, while taking to the streets to protest, reported The Guardian.

Some protesters marched toward the local governor's office to protest. According to videos received and verified by the BBC Persian Service, the security forces opened fire on protesters.

Internet disrupted: According to Netblocks, a watchdog organisation that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance, the internet connection has been disrupted in various locations, including in the capital, Tehran, and Saqez.

Many users said they could not upload videos on Instagram or send content over WhatsApp, reported BBC. Iranian state-controlled Sharq newspaper reported that Tehran's very low internet speed disrupted the stock market on Saturday.

Hijab rule in Iran: The hijab has been compulsory for women in Iran since after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The members of the morality police enforce the strict dress code. This morality police has been criticised often with videos of such incidents getting viral on social media.

Since 2017, after dozens of women publicly took off their headscarves in a wave of protests, authorities have adopted tougher measures, reported AP.

Last updated: September 19, 2022 | 12:36
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