Iran is dealing with a lot of controversy as the investigation of the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, is ongoing. On September 16, 2022, Amini died in a coma in the custody of Iran's morality police, a dedicated unit that enforces strict dress codes for women, such as wearing the compulsory headscarf. According to IranWire, as the family was interviewed, they reported that the police grabbed Amini and forced her inside a police vehicle, stating that she needed one hour of "re-education." This re-education refers to the re-education centers, which teach Islam and the importance of the hijab and then force the person to sign a pledge to abide by the state's clothing regulations before they are released. Unfortunately, when the family went to pick her up, Amini was headed to the hospital unconscious. When arriving at the hospital, she was pronounced dead, and the police stated that she had died from a heart attack, yet her family confirmed that she was healthy with no pre-existing heart conditions. She died all because she
chose to wear/remove her hijab partially, meaning she failed to follow the Iranian dress code.
Amini's story has pulled Iran's apparatus of discipline back into the media, making people question who is accountable for this issue - is it the country's clerical elite or the notorious morality police? Many women are protesting her death. They are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, protesting the Islamic establishment and the rejected responsibility of the Iranian government. Many desired to stop the abuse of the morality police and the re-education centers. The protests by the women allowed for more media attention, and the many protests, where demonstrators were chanting "death to the dictator," caused a danger to the Islamic regime, causing police to retaliate using tear gas and firing squads. People are not just protesting for the justice of Mahsa Amini but also for the long-awaited women's rights and a life without a religious dictatorship. This attention caused the members of the Iranian Parliament to make an open letter, signed by 227 of Iran's 290 members, stating that the lawmakers call for protesters to be taught a "good lesson" to deter others from participating in and disrespecting the authority of the Iranian government. Meanwhile, Iran has charged at least 1,000 people in Tehran province for their alleged involvement in the nationwide protests, including "enmity against God" and "corruption on Earth," which carries the death sentence. More than 14,000 people have been arrested, including journalists, activists, and more.
The death of Amini has caused many Iranian people to realize that their rights are being taken away and have decided to fight against it, causing them to be punished for wanting a country without religious rules, regulations, and dictatorship. Nothing has changed through their movements and protests, yet they are still fighting and protesting, trying to achieve the freedom they have failed to receive for so long.
CNN. "Iran's Morality Police Have Terrorized Women for Decades. Who Are They?" Egypt Independent, September 21, 2022, https://egyptindependent.com/irans-morality-police-have-terrorized-women-for-decades-who-are-they/.
Deaton, Jennifer, and Kathleen Magramo. "Iranian Lawmakers Demand 'No Leniency' for Protesters as Mass Demonstrations Continue." CNN, Cable News Network, November 8, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/06/middleeast/iran-lawmakers-judiciary-letter-protests-intl-hnk/index.html.
Farda, RFE/RL's Radio. "Iranian Officials Say Student Protesters Arrested, Sent to Reeducation Camps." RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Radio Free Europe / Liberty, November 10, 2022, https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-amini-protests-students-reeducation/32079419.html.
Program. "Iran Forces Islamic Re-Education Classes." International Christian Concern, February 4, 2022, https://www.persecution.org/2022/02/04/iran-forces-islamic-re-education-classes/.