On Sept. 13, 2022, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was killed after being arrested by Iranian morality police for not wearing a hijab, or head scarf, which is strictly prohibited in Iran.
It is alleged that she was beaten to death by police with a baton. However, Iranian police claimed that she died of a heart attack. According to BBC, “Authorities released footage of Ms. Amini collapsing in the police station,” as well as images of her in a coma.
The death of the young woman enraged many Iranians, resulting in widespread protests. Iranian women all over have decided to remove their headscarves in public to show solidarity. Some have also publicly set fire to their headscarves, chanting “Women, Life, Freedom” and “Death to the Dictator.” Protests are ongoing, approaching their third month since Amini’s death. Still, some Iranians have gone as far as to call for an overthrow of the current system of government.
The protests in Iran are largely unprecedented, as anti-Hijab movements of this scale have not been seen before. Isolated instances of protests have occurred in the past, but never to this extent. Reuters alleges that these protests have seen approximately 90,000 participants, with nearly 531 dead and at least 1,160 injured as a result. While numbers might not be completely accurate based on reports coming from Iran, 90,000 people protesting for the rights of women is record-breaking for Iranians and is a clear demonstration that the civilians are demanding change in their society.
It was reported that Iran recently abolished the morality police; however, this is denied by state media.
Regarding Hijab mandates, there appears to be debate over whether the laws will be modified or amended. Al-Jazeera, a Qatari news outlet, reports “Authorities appear to be reviewing ways the hijab law can be implemented, and there is little to suggest that the law will be removed.”
Although this debate does not give Iranian women a choice when it comes to wearing a Hijab, it does demonstrate that the protests have forced the Iranian government to consider change and that further reform is possible if protests persist.
A senior political science student at Monmouth stated, “This kind of public insurrection is an important part of creating change in the country. The public displays of disobedience by Iranians have captured the attention of the world, making it impossible for not only global citizens to ignore what is happening in the country, but governments as well.”
As protests continue, many people around the world will pay close attention to how Iranian officials respond and the action they take to meet protestors’ demands.