Protests in Iran Aren’t Stopping Just Yet

Iranian women call for an immediate end to violence


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Nasibe Samsaei cutting her hair in a protest outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul on September 21st

by Isabel Andjell, Staff Writer

“Women! Life! Freedom!”

These are the protest chants heard in Iran, which in recent days, have taken 40 Iranian cities by storm. Iran’s morality police have cracked down on women wearing their hijabs “improperly” for decades. They arrest, detain, and supervise re-education centers where women, and, occasionally men, are detained. The police determine whether they comply with the state’s modesty rules or not.

22-year-old Mahsa Amini was pulled off the streets of Tehran by police and taken to one of these centers on September 13th. Three days later, she died in the hospital. Authorities said her death is a result of a preexisting heart condition, but her family rejected these claims, telling local media she died from injuries inflicted by the morality police.

Though Iranian officials deny these claims, security forces at the protests have allegedly opened fire on protestors. Since last week, Iran Human Rights has recorded 76 deaths and over 1,200 arrests. The Iranian government also restricted Internet access, hacking the VPNs (virtual private networks) that citizens use to contact the outside world through social media sites like Instagram and Twitter.

Lawmaker Lotfollah Siahkali told the press that, “Social media are the biggest venue for the enemies to further their conspiracies, thus, restrictions will continue as long as the protests continue.”

Simon Fraser University students show their solidarity with Iranian women (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Amini’s death served as the last straw for Iranian women, who began protests nearly two weeks ago, and aren’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. Women have been seen cutting their hair and burning their hijabs. Both acts are considered offensive and demonstrate a powerful defiance in Iran.

Faezeh Afshan, a 36-year-old Iranian chemical engineer, was filmed shaving her hair off. She said, “In our literature, cutting the hair is a symbol of mourning, and sometimes a symbol of protesting. If we can cut our hair to show that we are angry… we will do it.”