What happened to Mahsa Amini and why Iran is protesting

The death of a young woman in Iran, who died while in police custody, has sparked national outcry and protest in Iran. Iran’s police arrested Mahsa Amini for violating the country’s restrictive dress code by wearing her headscarf too loosely. Here’s what is happening in Iran right now:

  • The arrest of a young woman. According to human rights nonprofit Amnesty International, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was arrested in Tehran by the country’s so-called morality police on September 13, 2022. According to eyewitnesses, “Amini was violently beaten while being forcibly transferred to Vozara detention centre in Tehran.” After a few hours, she fell into a coma and died three days later.
  • Iranian women are burning their hijabs. Iranian authorities claimed they were investigating Amini’s death while denying any wrongdoing. Iran’s police are notorious for regularly detaining, arresting, humiliating, and torturing girls and women for violating its draconian veil law. Videos and photos emerging from Iran show massive crowd protests, with some women taking off and burning their hijabs as a show of defiance against the government’s law.
  • Digital blackout in Iran. Iranians experienced a near-total internet blackout on Wednesday as unconfirmed reports continue to pour onto social media, including astounding footage of the police firing tear gas at protesters, arresting and killing seven of them, to date. Protests were fueled by the Iranian authority’s alleged investigation into Amini’s death while simultaneously denying any wrongdoing.
  • Iran’s president addressed the UN. On the fifth day of protests, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi addressed the General Assembly and attempted to evade any criticism by saying, “The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects some of the double standards of some governments vis-a-vis human rights.”
  • This wave of protests comes on the heels of ongoing unrest. Since May, Iranians have been protesting the government’s lack of action against rising prices and an ongoing economic crisis. In response to protests and labor strikes, the government arrested prominent activists, academics, and teachers organizing labor unions.

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