Reviews | Mahsa Amini’s death highlights tyranny of Iranian hijab officials

When she was arrested at the entrance to a metro station in Tehran on September 13, Mahsa Amini, 22, was visiting with her family from Kurdistan province. Her brother asked the so-called orientation patrols to leave her alone, family members said. But the vice squad arrested her for allegedly breaking the republic’s strict Islamic dress code for women, including the requirement to wear a headscarf known as a hijab and loose clothing. Three days later, while still in detention, Ms. Amini died.

Authorities said she died of a heart attack. But activists believe she may have been beatenand a photo of her in hospital, intubated, which has circulated widely on social media, shows her bleeding from her ear and with bruises around her eyes – signs that she suffered head injuries.

His fate angered Iran. Street protests erupted in Kurdistan province, where she was buried on Saturday. In the past five days, seven people were killed, at least three of them were shot dead by security forces. On Monday, university students in Tehran demonstrated in the city center. The Associated Press reported that they chanted “Death to the Dictator” and denounced the police and the regime. Witnesses saw trash cans set on fire and rocks strewn at some downtown intersections as the smell of tear gas wafted through the air, and police closed roads and cut mobile internet service. On Tuesday, protests were reported around the countryled by women burning their hijabs in protest.

Anger over Mrs Amini’s death was amplified by the rapid and wide spread of the Photo and video of her, once again showing the power of social media to accelerate dissent. In 2009 in Tehran, the murder of Neda Agha Soltan, 27, shot dead and bleeding to death during a street protest, was seen on grainy video which galvanized more anger and unrest. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the regime has used coercion, intimidation, batons and tear gas to quell the protest and stifle freedom of expression. But the latest protests suggest Iranians are losing their fear.

Women in Iran have long despised the hijab law and its arbitrary application in the form of harassment and intimidation by the morality police. They have good reason to be furious: the compulsory dress code deprives them of free choice of their appearance in public and subjects them to constant and capricious scrutiny by tyrannical execution squads.

The protests come at a delicate time for Iran’s theocracy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be seriously ill; the country’s nuclear deal with the West hangs by a thread; Iran is fighting several cyber skirmishes with adversaries, including Israel. Hardline chairman Ebrahim Raisi has decided to repeat a despicable action and longtime duck Iranian leaders, expressing doubts on the Holocaust on the eve of attending the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Iranian leaders are disconnected from a society that aspires to more – and deserves better.

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