A 22-year-old Iranian woman died after being arrested by the Tehran morality police while visiting family. 

Mahsa Amini was visiting relatives from the western province of Kurdistan on Tuesday, September 13. According to the BBC, authorities accused Amini of breaking the strict hijab laws while being in a park. Although police say Amini was arrested peacefully and “made jokes” while being apprehended, witnesses said they could hear her being beaten inside the police van. 

The young traveler was taken to a hospital following her arrest. She arrived in a coma and died three days later from her injuries. 

According to The Guardian, police insist that Amini succumbed to heart failure. They released a video of a woman they claim to be Amini standing in the police station and collapsing. However, Amini’s CT scans showed a bone fracture, hemorrhage, and brain edema. Some believe this proves she died after being hit in the head. 

Social media has erupted in protest as locals in Tehran and surrounding areas take to the streets. Twitter videos show protesters being met by angry militias outside of Tehran University as students protest the alleged murder of Amini. 

A tragic ending to a family trip, Amini’s death is raising new questions about Iran’s strict hijab regulations and treatment of women. Despite being rooted in tradition, this strict moral code comes to the detriment of Iranian women.

A Strict Moral Code

Photo Courtesy of Akela Photography.

Under the Islamic Hijab Rules, women walking publicly without a hijab is a punishable crime. These rules were created in 1979 following Iran’s Islamic revolution. Now, they are enforced by the country’s morality police. 

The morality police is responsible for enforcing Iran’s strict dress code on it’s women. According to Iranian law, all women must wear a hijab that covers their head, neck, and hair. Even if the women isn’t Muslim or Iranian, they must wear the hijab. 

Over the last few decades, more women have objected to the hijab rules by letting their head covering slide back to reveal more hair. However, the country has a strict moral code and many women face arrest and prosecution for breaking the law. 

Before Amini’s death, Iran’s morality police had been under scrutiny and criticism for using excessive force against women who vioated the hijab rule. Prior to arresting her, police informed her family she would undergo a “re-education session” and be released from custody. 

Now, Iranian women are taking to the streets of Tehran to protests decades of oppression by men and the Iranian government.

Denial of Mistreatment

Photo Courtesy of Alotrobo.

Iran’s morality police continue to deny Amini received any mistreatment during her detainment. In a press conference, Greater Tehran police commander, Hossein Rahimi, said Amini was not injured during her arrest and that the police did no harm to her. 

“This incident was unfortunate for us and we wish to never witness such incidents,” Rahimi said in a statement reported by the Fars News Agency.

Rahimi went on to say the police are being wrongfully attacked and they had valid reasons to arrest Amini for violating the hijab rule. Although the country’s morality police are suppose to wear body cam, none were present during Amini’s arrest. 

“There was no negligence on the part of the police, not even a small slip; all the words published in cyberspace about the cause of death are pure lies,” he said. 

Photos of Amini released online showed her face discolored and bruised after being admitted to the hospital. However, the police stand by their innocence. Foreign personnel around the world have released statements pertaining to Amini’s arrest and unfortunate death. 

“Mahsa Amini’s death after injuries sustained while in police custody for wearing an ‘improper’ hijab is an appalling and egregious affront to human rights,”said a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.

Twitter Backlash & Protest

Since news of Amini’s death hit the internet, Twitter has been in a frenzy about the young traveler’s passing. Online users have been documenting the protests taking place in Tehran and the surrounding Kurdish countryside. Some even claim there have been deaths by police in the midst of the protests yet none have been confirmed. 

One video showed protestors throwing rocks at police officers in the town of Divandarreh in Kurdistan. Protestors rioted against militia forces at Tehran University and one man yelled, “I will kill the one who killed my sister … By cannon, tank or firecracker, clerics get lost.”

With an international spotlight being shinned on Iran’s strict hijab laws, many wonder if Amini’s death is the domino that will lead to the fall of unfair and cruel legalities against women in the Middle East.