Rage against the hijab after the death of a woman arrested by the morality police

NOTE TO READERS: This week’s bulletin is released a day early to report on the strong reaction across Iran to the death of Mahsa Amini.

Welcome back to the Farda Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that follows the main issues in Iran and explains why they matter.

I am RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari. Here’s what I’ve been tracking over the past week and what I’m watching for in the days ahead.

The big problem

The death of a young woman following her arrest by Tehran vice police has sparked widespread outrage among Iranians while sparking several days of protests.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested in Tehran on September 13 while visiting the capital with her family. She died three days later in a hospital after slipping into a coma while in the custody of police, who claimed she had suffered a heart attack while denying claims by activists that she had beaten as she was taken to the police station for “education.

Her family said Amini had no previous health issues. Her father, Amjad Amini, told an Iranian news site that witnesses saw her being pushed into a police car.

The government has ordered an investigation amid the social media furor, as well as several days of angry protests in his hometown of Saghez and a dozen other cities in Kurdistan of Iran as well as Tehran and Rasht, according to amateur videos posted online. Demonstrations also took place at several universities in the Iranian capital, Isfahan and Tabriz.

Why is this important: Amini’s death comes amid a tightening crackdown on hijab in Iran and increased pressure on women who flout the rules. Whether or not Amini was beaten, her tragic death brought to light decades of state harassment of women who do not fully adhere to hijab restrictions.

Many Iranians have in recent days called for the abolition of the morality police and an end to the hijab rule that became compulsory in 1981, two years after the Islamic revolution. In recent days, women protesting Amini’s death have taken off their headscarves in public and waved them defiantly, while some set them on fire to show their anger and opposition to forced hijab.

Justice, freedom and optional hijab“, as well as “Death to the dictator” were some of the chants of the demonstrators in the Iranian capital, where an iconic photo also shows a young woman burning her hijab and showing the victory sign while standing on a car.

And after: The institution used Obligate and internet disruption in an effort to end protests over Amini’s death, leading to calls for an end to the Islamic republic. State repression will only heighten anti-establishment sentiment, as well as growing public opposition to the morality police and hijab rule.

Calls for the truth about Amini’s death and for an independent investigation should also continue.

Stories you might have missed

• Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Ensieh Khazali, has been a strong supporter of increased online censorship and a crackdown on the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). But Khazali drew criticism after revealing that his son emigrated to Canada and started a business that sells VPNs. The revelation sparked calls for the resignation of the vice president.

• Iranian rights activist Melika Karagozlu was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for protesting mandatory hijab rules, her lawyer said. Mohammad Ali Kamfiruzi, Qaragozlu’s lawyer, wrote on Twitter on September 19 that the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran had recently sentenced his client for posting a few seconds of video of herself without a headscarf on social media. .

what we watch

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. It is the first time Raisi has attended the annual event, where he has previously met French President Emmanuel Macron and is likely to hold talks with other world leaders. It will also be met with protests from opposition groups and Iranian expats angry at human rights abuses in the country and Amini’s death.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sept. 19 that he cannot rule out the possibility that the Iranian delegation, which includes Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdolahian and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, have a meeting on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal on the sidelines of the UN meeting.

“We have not left the talks,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Why is this important: The UN meeting could provide a venue for diplomatic exchanges between Iran, the United States and EU countries on the renewal of the nuclear agreement. It comes amid an impasse in nuclear talks following Tehran’s latest response, which has been described by the US State Department as a “step backwards”.

That’s all about me for now. Don’t forget to send me your questions, comments or advice.

Until next time,

Golnaz Esfandiari

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