Anger is spreading across the country after Massa Amini, 22, dies in ‘morality police’ custody
Anger over many things simultaneously fuels protests: allegations that Amini was beaten in detention before she fell and fell into a coma; by ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi ) the priorities of the Iranian government led by him, who enforce strict dress codes and empower the hateful moral police at a time when the economy is generally suffering; and the suffering of the family of Amini, a Kurdish ethnicity from rural Iran, who The expressions of pain and shock resonated across the country.
Her family said Amini had no health problems to explain her death, and they could not understand how she attracted police interest. “Even a 60-year-old woman is not covered up like Mahsa,” her father, Amjad Amini, told Iranian news media.
Human rights groups said at least seven people were killed in the demonstrations, the largest since protests erupted in Iran in 2019 over cuts to fuel subsidies. During these protests, like the ones that are shaking the country now, the authorities responded by cutting off internet service and in some cases resorting to deadly force, including live ammunition.
Video showed protesters, some speaking Kurdish, taking to the streets in Kamiyaran and Abu Danan, near the Iran-Iraq border. Many of the protests were centered in the west, where Amini’s family came from impoverished Kurdish regions. The Kurds – who speak their own language, have a distinct cultural identity and are mostly Sunni Muslims in a Shia-majority country – have complained for decades of central government neglect.
Mass demonstrations also erupted in two Iranian cities considered holy places by Shiite Muslims and attracting tens of millions of pilgrims each year. “Cannons, tanks and rockets, clerics must get lost” protesters chanted in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, and the site of the revered Imam Reza shrine. They gathered on Ahmedabad Street, a main thoroughfare, where the fire could be seen in the distance. In a video from the religious academic center Qom, protesters marched through the streets, whistling and some throwing stones. “Hit him,” someone shouted as the crowd surged up.
The protests quickly spread to the capital, with a video showing demonstrators gathering at Vali-e Asr, the main square in central Tehran. “Disgraceful, disgraceful,” they shouted as they were sprayed with water cannons mounted on armored police vehicles. Another video from central Tehran showed students at Amir Kabir University of Technology chanting “death to the dictator” – a reference to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Anger at universities has grown in recent months as the government tightens its hijab rules. Students who protest risk arrest or blacklisting that threatens their academic progress.
The protests extend far beyond the capital and traditionally volatile parts of Iran. In a video in Kerman, southeastern Iran, a young woman takes off her hijab and cuts her hair while sitting on a glove box surrounded by cheering crowds. “An Iranian will die, but will not accept oppression,” the crowd chanted. In Surrey, near the Caspian Sea, a woman dances around a small bonfire before throwing her turban into the fire.
Another video from Rasht, also in the Caspian Sea, shows a group of young people surrounding a police officer who is wielding what appears to be a stun gun. Within seconds, the crowd began to attack, pushing the officer to the ground and beating him. If gunfire was heard, demonstrators would flee.