Protests erupted in western Iran on Saturday as a 22-year-old woman died after being detained by the regime’s morality police for allegedly not following the country’s hijab regulations, the BBC reported.
The woman, Mahsa Amini, was detained on Tuesday in the Iranian capital of Tehran by the police unit that enforces the Islamic republic’s obligatory dress codes, including the compulsory wearing of the headscarf in public.
The headscarf and other conservative dress codes, which are mandatory for women of all nationalities and religions in Iran, have been compulsory since the country’s 1979 revolution.
Witnesses claimed that Amini was beaten in the police van and fell into a coma, but the authorities have refuted the allegations, according to the BBC. The police on Friday claimed that Amini had suffered sudden heart failure. According to them, she fell sick while she was waiting with other detainees at a morality police station, Reuters reported.
Amini’s family has disputed the claim saying she was healthy and had not been suffering from any health problems before her detention.
The news of her death emerged weeks after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called for strict enforcement of the dress codes.
On Saturday, videos posted on social media showed women removing their veils to protest Amini’s death and the government’s ultraconservative dress codes. At her funeral in Saqez, in the western province of Kurdistan, protestors shouted “death to the dictator” – a reference to Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.
Later in the day, the protests also spread to Sanandaj, the provincial capital. Videos showed citizens shouting anti-regime slogans later in the evening in Tehran. The police fired tear gas at protesters to disperse them.
After the demonstrations, the authorities started an inquiry to ascertain how Amini died. On Saturday, a medical examiner told Reuters that the results of forensic tests may take three weeks.
Amnesty International said that “all agents and officials responsible [for her death] must face justice”.
Human rights activists also demanded that those responsible for her “suspicious” death should be brought to justice.