A huge crowd cheers as a woman brings a pair of scissors to her hair – exposed, with no hijab in sight. The sea of people, many of them men, roars as she cuts her ponytail and raises her fist in the air.
It was a powerful act of defiance on Tuesday night in the Iranian city of Kerman, where women are required to wear hijabs in public – and just one of many protests taking place across the country after and Mahsa Amini. , a 22-year-old girl, killed in police custody last week.
Thousands took to the streets, with videos of protests emerging from dozens of cities – from the capital Tehran to more traditionally conservative strongholds like Mashad. The images show some protesters shouting: “Women, life, freedom”. Others can be seen building bonfires, fighting with the police or removing and burning their head scarves – as well as smashing posters of the country’s supreme leader and shouting: “Death to the dictator”.
In a video in Tehran, young protesters march around a fire in the street at night, chanting: “We are the children of war. Come and fight, and we’ll fight back.” Almost all provincial cities in the Kurdish region of Iran, including Kermanshah and Hamedan, also saw demonstrations.
The protests are remarkable for their scale, ferocity and rare feminist nature; the last protests of this size were three years ago, after the government raised gas prices in 2019.
Witnesses told CNN that Tuesday night’s demonstrations appear to be “instant protests” – meaning groups form and disperse quickly, to avoid clashes with Iran’s security forces after last week’s escalation of violence. .
A source said there was at least one case of heavy police response on Tuesday near Iran’s Enghelab (“Revolution”) square on the west side of Tehran University – historically a rallying point for protests.
“Two young men were shot and beaten by plainclothes officers and riot police, then dragged into the van in front of the subway entrance gate,” an eyewitness told CNN. “An injured girl lying on the sidewalk was taken by ambulance to hospital and five others arrested on the north side of Enghelab Square.”
At least five protesters have been shot dead during demonstrations in the Kurdish region in recent days, according to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a Norwegian-registered organization that monitors rights violations in Iran. He said another 75 were injured in other cities over the weekend.
The protests erupted after the death of Amini, who was stopped and detained by Iran’s morality police last Tuesday.
Iranian officials said Amini died last Friday after suffering a “heart attack” and falling into a coma following his arrest. However, her family said she did not have a pre-existing heart condition, according to Emtedad News, an Iranian pro-reform media outlet that claimed to have spoken to Amini’s father.
Edited security camera footage released by Iran’s state media appeared to show Amini passing out at a “re-education” center where she was taken to receive “guidance” on her attire.
Iran’s morality police are part of the country’s law enforcement and are tasked with enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict social rules, including its dress code that requires women to wear a headscarf, or hijab, in public.
An aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promised a “full investigation” into Amini’s death during a meeting with his family at his home on Monday, according to Iran’s semi-official Nour News agency.
Abdolreza Pourzahabi, Khamenei’s representative in Iran’s Kurdish province, said the supreme leader “is sad” and that the family’s pain “is his sadness too”, according to Nour. He added that he hopes the family will show “goodwill to help bring back calm in society.”
During a press conference also on Monday, Greater Tehran police commander Hossein Rahimi denied “false accusations” against Iranian police, saying they “did everything” to keep Amini alive. He added that Amini was not physically injured during or after she was arrested and called her death “unfortunate”.
Since Amini’s death, internet monitoring website Netblocks has documented internet outages since Friday – a tactic Iran has previously used to stop the spread of protests.
Source: CNN Brasil