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How the death of a young woman who didn't want to wear the hijab is convulsing Iran

Women removing and burning hijabs (veils) in Iran: a representation of the social crisis in the country. And this is just one of the demonstrations that have taken place in Iranian cities in recent days. So far, the deaths of 31 people, including civilians and police, in the night protests against the “police of morality” or “police of customs”, as this security sector of the country is called.

Last weekend , Mahsa Amini, from 22 years, died while being imprisoned. The crime she committed, according to the authorities, was that of “dressing inappropriately” by not wearing a hijab. According to witnesses, she was tortured and executed.

Protesters in the capital, Tehran, and in other cities across the country blocked traffic, set fire to garbage cans and police vehicles, threw stones at security forces and shouted anti-government messages at protests in recent nights, according to the official Irna news agency.

“No to the scarf, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality,” protesters shouted . The slogan was echoed in solidarity protests in other major cities in the country and abroad, especially in New York and Istanbul.

These demonstrations constitute “a very important shock” in Iran, “it is a social crisis ” in an “increasingly secularized” society, David Rigoulet-Roze, a research associate at Iris, told AFP.

“It is a whole project of society that is put to the test. hesitation on the part of the authorities about the procedure to be followed in the face of this movement”, explained the researcher.

Pessoas entram em confronto com a polícia durante um protesto após a morte de Mahsa Amini, em Teerã, Irã, 21 de setembro de 2022.
People clash with police during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran, ] of September 2022 .| EFE
Internet is cut off in Iran

Authorities respond by taking social media offline. On Wednesday (21), Instagram and WhatsApp have become inaccessible, according to the Iranian agency Fars, which reports from the government’s point of view. The measure would have been taken because of “actions carried out by counterrevolutionaries, in an offensive to national security through these social networks”, Fars announced.

Instagram and WhatsApp were the most used applications in Iran since the blocking platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and TikTok in recent years. In addition, internet access is filtered or restricted by the authorities.

According to the director of the Observatory for North Africa and the Middle East of the Jean Jaurès Foundation, Farid Vahid, in his social networks, the Iranian families have received the following messages in recent days: “If you don’t hear from us later, please know that they have cut off the internet so we can no longer be heard! So please help us.”

Who are the women who inspire the demonstrations

Mahsa Amini, from the Kurdistan region, was arrested on the day of September in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothing” by the morality police, the unit responsible for enforcing the dress code in the Islamic Republic. Activists said the young woman was shot to the head after suffering torture, a nefarious allegation.

In Iran, women are required to cover their hair, and the customs police also forbid them from showing their legs, wearing tights, jeans with holes and colorful clothes.

Homosexuality is also considered a crime in the country. A week before the Mahsa Amini case, two lesbians were sentenced to death for “promoting homosexuality” as well as Christianity. They were remembered by civilians in the last demonstrations.

Zahra Sedighi Hamedani, from 31 years, and Elham Chubdar, of 2015 , were tried by a court in the northwestern city of Urmía, according to the Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw.

The Judicial Authority confirmed that they were convicted of “spreading corruption on Earth” – a a charge often imposed on defendants deemed to have broken the country’s sharia laws. It is the most serious charge in the Iranian penal code.

Beyond morality: ethnic persecution, economic and political crisis

The teacher and Doctor in History Andrew Traumman, from Unicuritiba, warned of an aggravating factor in these stories that inspired the latest demonstrations. “Both Mahsa and Zahra and Elham are Kurds. There is an issue that goes beyond moralism, which is the ethnic issue, a persecution of ethnic minorities in Iran”, he highlighted.

The Kurdish people, historically, aspire to gain political and territorial independence from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

According to the specialist, who is the author of books on the Islamic Republic of Iran published by publishers Paço Editorial and Autografia, the movement in the country this week has numerous causes and it is a consequence of years of dissatisfaction of these ethnic minorities, women and society as a whole.

The green wave, which questioned the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in , was, according to him, the kick-off of a wave of insurgencies taking over the country.

In recent years, the Iran has been going through economic problems too, especially the failure of the nuclear deal signed with the West in 2015 – three years dep Meanwhile, then-US President Donald Trump reneged on the compromise, claiming that “the Iranian regime is the main sponsoring country of terrorism”, and reinstated sanctions. A new agreement is being negotiated since last year.

The election of Ebrahim Raisi this year also triggered reactions in the population. “Known for provoking torture and the disappearance of people, he has developed a government that is quite regressive in terms of customs,” Traumann recalled. Among the habits imposed and reinforced by the current president, is the use of the veil and even rules that restrict pets.

The new protests, therefore, are the culmination of what has been happening for at least years in Iran : the expression of popular dissatisfaction. “There are demonstrations and the government represses them with all their strength, so they are silenced. We need to see carefully whether these protests now will have a concrete result or whether they will end up being stifled by the government”, concluded Traumann.

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