The death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died while in custody of Iran’s morality police over ‘inappropriate’ dressing sparked a series of nationwide protests in the country, with Iranians expressing outrage over the government and the brutality of the morality police. Here’s what we know so far:
On September 13 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was detained by the morality police while she was travelling with her family from Kurdistan province to Tehran for what the police deemed was ‘inappropriate clothing’. Three days later, on September 16, she died while in police custody after having fallen into a coma.
Police authorities claim that Mahsa had suffered a stroke due to pre-existing conditions while under police custody in a ‘guidance center’ — a re-education center that teaches women the ‘proper way’ to enact Iran’s dress code. However, Mahsa’s family has contested the police’s claim, saying that the woman had no pre-existing conditions that could have led to her having a stroke. They claim that she was severely beaten by the morality police while in custody, which is what led to her death.
Since then, protests erupted all over the country, with people expressing anger and outrage over the brutality of the branch of Iran’s police that led to Mahsa Amin’s death, as well as over the government. While the opposition in Iran had already been protesting since July, the Amini’s death intensified the protests. The total death toll as a result of the protests since September 16 has risen to over 100, although the government has not yet released an official figure.
Some Iranian lawmakers are also of the opinion that outside forces and media organizations backed by Saudi Arabia are behind the scale of the protests. This sentiment was confirmed in an address given by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on October 3 —his first official remarks since the death of Mahsa Amini— where he accused Israel and the United States for instigating the protests in Iran.
Calling the incident of Mahsa’s death a ‘bitter incident’ provoked by Iran’s enemies, he said that it ‘deeply broke his heart’. “I openly state that the recent riots were schemes designed by America, the fake Zionist regime [Israel] and their mercenaries inside and outside Iran,” Khamenei said sharply. He expressed firm backing for the security forces, who he said had been ‘wronged’ during the protests.
“Many riots take place around the world. Especially in France, massive riots occur every now and then, but has the US president ever supported European rioters, issued a declaration or said we stand with you? Is there any record of US media supporting them?” he asked.
Despite sharp crackdowns from the police on major universities and public gathering areas, as well as rising death tolls, the protests continue, with faith and confidence in Iran’s current regime dwindling each day.