Iran’s country attorney general claimed on December 5, 2022, that the country’s “moral police” were being demolished. In Iran, there has been a special police force to scrutinize whether women are dressed appropriately or not. There have been strict dress codes for women and a compulsion on wearing headscarves or hijabs in public. The hijab should be properly and tightly tied and must cover the hair without exception. If any woman does not follow these rules, the morality police have been deployed to enforce the dress code.
Story behind the starting of the protest:
In September 2022, Mahsa Amini and her family were travelling from the Kurdistan region to Tehran (Iran’s capital) when they were stopped by the morality police since Mahsa was not wearing her hijab properly.
As stated by her family, the police dragged her out of the car and forced her to sit in their vehicle, and when her brother, Kiarash, tried to intervene, the police twisted his arm behind his back.
The police told her family that they are taking her to the station and will release her after a one-hour “re-education class.”
When Mahsa’s family told the whole situation to the human rights activists, she was then taken to the detention centre for interrogation, where her brother was also present.
Mahsa’s brother reported that he heard her screams from inside while waiting outside, few seconds later he spotted an ambulance arriving. She was then secretly taken to the Kasra hospital by the police.
The police claimed that Mahsa suffered a heart attack, and then her brother was told she was in a coma. The next day, unfortunately, she passed away.
Amini was a healthy girl, and a heart attack at 22 years is not normal.
Many eyewitnesses, and even Mahsa’s father, said in an interview that his daughter was brutally beaten up inside the police van.
This story took a strange turn when a group of hacker activists leaked a CT scan of Mahsa’s skull. It showed a skull fracture on the right side of her head, caused by severe trauma to the skull. This confirms the eyewitness statement of her being beaten several times on the head.
On September 17, 2022, a source from the hospital revealed that Mahsa’s brain tissue had been crushed after “multiple blows” to the head. This was supported by a top medical officer in the southern province of Iran when he published photos of Mahsa when she was admitted to the hospital. She was bleeding, which supported the statement that she did not get a heart attack but was rather brutally beaten to death.
This issue spread internationally just after she was taken to the hospital. Nada Al-Nashif, the present United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that this case should be investigated by an independent, competent authority. She then discusses the hijab law, which targets women and makes their wives’ lives a living hell, as going out without a hijab is still punishable by imprisonment. Amnesty International, a global organization with over 150 member countries, has also called for an investigation into the incident.
As the news and proofs of her being beaten to death spread and countries gave statements and demanded investigations, the protests started to spread in other cities as well.
A “me too movement also started, where many women came forward and uploaded their videos of being mistreated by the “morality police”. Many videos went viral where women were seen chopping their hair and burning their hijabs. Soon the protest turned violent, and authorities used tear gas and lethal force on the protesters. More than 100 people were injured in police firing, and more than 500 people were arrested.