A chain of protests broke out in over 80 cities of Iran after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman. Mahsa Amini was confronted by the morality police on charges of wearing an ‘inappropriate hijab’, on 13th September in Iran’s capital city of Tehran. She was brutally beaten while being forcibly taken to “Vozara Detention Center,” according to eyewitnesses. She went into a coma after a few hours and passed away three days later. While her family accused the police of beating her to death, the authorities claimed she had a “heart failure.”
Over a hundred thousand people took to the streets, with increasing frustration with Iran’s oppressive dictatorial regime led by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, calling for the repeal of the law that imposes a strict dress code and mandatory hijab. The enforcement of the compulsory dress code has become very strict in recent years and several women have been excruciatingly penalized. However, the vociferous cries of protestors are not only against the oppressive rules of the morality police but it goes beyond the repression of women, poverty and declining economy, and the ruthless government of Iran.
The collective resistance has gained attention all over the world and many politicians, influencers and celebrities have criticized the police publically. Women are burning their hijabs, cutting their hair, and rebelling for freedom with men raising their voices in solidarity. They are currently destroying all Islamic symbols while screaming, “Take your Islam and go.” There have been videos of protests surfacing the internet since the past week. The public removal of the state-mandated hijab has evolved into a symbol of rejection of the regime, unifying Iranians of all religious backgrounds.
The Iranian government and their police forces have responded to these protests with extreme hostility by firing bullets and tear gas, and arresting and killing over 50 protestors. To prevent protesters from sharing photographs and information about the backlash to the outside world, Iran has enforced severe regulations on internet usage. There was almost no internet access for Iranians for a long time. However, the Biden administration initiated the relaxation of restrictions on internet services in Iran. Hackers have attacked the two primary websites of the Iranian government as well as other media websites. While, the authorities are eager to disconnect people from online platforms as they attempt to broadcast material utilizing multiple VPNs.
The Islamic leadership has also appealed to the military of Iraq and Lebanon for assistance in stopping the revolt. The government forces are also pressuring Mahsa’s family to do a public interview to defend and clear the police of the blame.
In his address to the General Assembly, President Ebrahim Raisi attempted to silence criticism by stating, “The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects some of the double standards of some governments vis-a-vis human rights.” Additionally, the president refused to take part in an interview when CNN’s Christiane Amanpour ‘politely declined’ his demand to cover her head. Amanpour tweeted. “The interview didn’t happen. As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”
These revolts are being crushed by pro-government demonstrations, who are also demanding the execution of anti-government protestors. The Iranian army indicated that they were prepared for an assault. The police were also spotted with deadly weapons in an attempt to combat the commoners of Iran. The UN has demanded a detailed investigation into the situation and warned the Iranian government against using excessive force. The unrest is happening at a crucial moment for the government because of a struggling economy as a result of US sanctions tied to its nuclear programme.