September 12, 2023

Mahsa Amini Protests Broke Out a Year Ago, What Has Changed in Iran?

Iran’s rulers have intensified a crackdown on dissent nearly a year since Mahsa Amini death in police custody sparked protests that spiraled into the worst political chaos since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The protests began soon after the death on September 16 of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrest by morality police three days earlier for allegedly violating Iran’s mandatory Islamic dress code.
Amini, described as a shy man who mind his own business and stayed away from politics, was detained as he exit a train station in Tehran. News of his death circulated on social media. Protests erupted at her funeral in her hometown of Saqez, and then spread across the country with demonstrators chanting “Women, life, freedom” in a sharp challenge to Iran’s clerical rulers. Although Amini’s family said he was kill by blows to his head and limbs, authorities said he died of medical problems, further fueling outrage over his death.

What Do Protesters Want?

With women and young people often on the front lines, protesters targeted symbols of the Islamic Republic, burning photos of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and chanting “Death to the Dictator”.

Women, including schoolgirls, removed and burned their hijabs, rebelling against laws requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing. The protests occurred mainly in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities who have long faced discrimination by the state, including Kurds in the northwest and Baluchis in the southeast. Meanwhile, more and more women are ignoring dress codes. After a chess player and a climber competed without wearing the hijab, a number of other prominent women defied the authorities by violating the hijab law and voiced support for the protest. Authorities have imposed travel bans and prison sentences on several public figures ranging from athletes to actresses.

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