On Sept. 13, Iran’s morality police arrested a 22-year-old woman in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely in public, a violation of the country’s dress code. Mahsa Amini was beaten in detention, her family says, and died three days after falling into a coma.
Her death has sparked mass anti-government protests across the country—the largest swell of resistance against the Islamic Republic in years—and violent crackdowns on the demonstrations have killed as many as 35 people.
In footage shared on social media, women are taking to the streets and removing their headscarves in defiance of the oppressive law. Some dropped their veils into a bonfire, others flouted the law by cutting their hair.
On Saturday, President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran must “deal decisively with those who oppose the country’s security and tranquility.” According to Reuters, state media reported that Raisi’s comments arrived during a phone call with relatives of one member of the Basij pro-government paramilitary volunteer force who was killed during protests in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
Raisi “stressed the necessity to distinguish between protest and disturbing public order and security, and called the events… a riot,” state media reported.
Meanwhile, Iranian authorities disrupted cell service and imposed a blackout on global internet access in the country, blocking usage of Instagram and WhatsApp, in an attempt to quell the unrest. The maneuver makes it harder for citizens to share video of Iran’s brutal response, which has reportedly included security forces opening fire on protesters.
While Iranian security forces say Amini died of a heart attack and was never mistreated, CNN reported that her father, Amjad Amini, has accused officials of lying about her death and refusing to allow him to see her body or her autopsy report. Amini, a Kurdish woman from the northwestern city of Saqez, died in a Tehran hospital.
Amjad told BBC Persian that Mahsa’s 17-year-old brother was with her when she was detained, and that witnesses told the sibling she had been beaten. “My son begged them not to take her, but he was beaten too, his clothes were ripped off,” Amjad said, adding, “I asked them to show me the body-cameras of the security officers, they told me the cameras were out of battery."