New protests broke out in Iran on Monday over the death of a young woman arrested by “morality police” who enforce strict dress codes, local media reported.
Public anger has grown since authorities announced the death on Friday of Mahsa Amini, 22, in a hospital after three days in a coma following her arrest by Tehran’s vice squad during a visit to the capital on Sept. 13.
According to news agencies Fars and Tasnim, demonstrations were held in Tehran, including in several universities, and in the second city of Mashhad.
Protesters marched down Hijab Street – or “headscarf street” – in central Tehran to denounce the vice squad, the ISNA news agency reported.
“Several hundreds of people chanted slogans against the authorities, some took off their headscarves,” Fars said, adding that “police arrested several people and dispersed the crowd with batons and tear gas”.
A short video released by Fars showed a crowd of several dozen people, including women who had taken off their headscarves, shouting “Death to the Islamic Republic!”
A “similar meeting” took place in the northeastern city of Mashhad, the Tasnim agency reported.
On Sunday, police made arrests and fired tear gas in Kurdistan province, where some 500 people had protested, with some smashing car windows and setting fire bins on fire.
– Fury –
The vice squads enforce a dress code in the Islamic republic that requires women to wear headscarves in public.
It also prohibits tight pants, ripped jeans, clothes that expose the knees, and brightly colored outfits.
Police maintain that there was “no physical contact” between the officers and the victim.
Tehran’s police chief, General Hossein Rahimi, said Monday that the woman had violated the dress code and that his colleagues had asked her relatives to bring her “decent clothes”.
He again dismissed “wrongful allegations against the police” and said that “the evidence shows that there was no negligence or inappropriate behavior on the part of the police”.
“This is an unfortunate incident and we never want to see such incidents again.”
Students gathered at the universities of Tehran and Shahid Beheshti demanding “clarification” about how Amini died, according to Fars and Tasnim news agencies.
A spokesman for Josep Borrell, the European Union’s head of foreign policy, said Amini’s “unacceptable” death was a “death” following injuries she sustained while in police custody.
The perpetrators must be held accountable and the Iranian authorities must respect the rights of their citizens, the spokesman added in a statement.
France said her death was “extremely shocking” and called for a “transparent investigation…to shed light on the circumstances of this tragedy”.
Amini’s death has rekindled calls for moral police action against women suspected of violating the dress code since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Filmmakers, artists, athletes and political and religious figures have taken to social media to express their anger.
President Ebrahim Raisi, an ultra-conservative former judiciary who came to power last year, has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death.
– distraught father –
State TV broadcast a short surveillance video Friday showing a woman identified as Amini collapsing at the police station after arguing with a policewoman.
Amjad Amini, the victim’s father, told Fars that he “didn’t accept what (the police) showed him”, arguing that “the film has been cut”.
He also criticized the “slow response” of the emergency services, adding: “I believe Mahsa was taken to hospital late.”
Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday that he had received reports that emergency services were “immediately” on the scene.
“Mahsa apparently had previous physical problems and we have reports that she had brain surgery at the age of five,” Vahidi said.
Her father, however, “maintains that his daughter had no history of illness and was in perfect health,” Fars reported.