The death of a young woman in police custody has sparked outrage and sadness in Iran. The government is in need of an explanation for the actions of the religious police. There were also protests in Germany.
Berlin/Tehran – After the death of a young woman in police custody, people took to the streets in several Iranian cities. At the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa A. in her hometown of Saghes in Iranian Kurdistan, thousands demonstrated in front of the governor’s office. According to the Fars news agency, there were also clashes with security forces. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The local authorities also confirmed the protests, but said the number of participants was lower. There was talk of several arrests on social media, which have not yet been confirmed. In Berlin, too, some people took to the streets on Saturday to protest the death of the woman in front of the Iranian embassy. Protests were also announced in Stuttgart, Munich and Cologne.
Why was the woman arrested?
The case had sparked outrage and sadness in Iran. Many Iranians also mourned the loss of the young woman on the Internet, who was arrested by the moral and religious police on Tuesday during a family visit in the capital Tehran because of her “un-Islamic” outfit and taken to a police station. According to the police, she fainted and then went into a coma because of heart failure. Her death was confirmed on Friday.
However, another version is also circulating on the Internet. The woman was arrested because her headscarf did not fit properly and a few strands of hair were visible. After the arrest, she was hit on the head, which led to a brain hemorrhage, a coma and finally to her brain death on Tuesday. The police vehemently denied this account.
The police and the government of President Ebrahim Raisi have been at a loss for explanations since the woman’s death and the nationwide criticism. The police tried to prove her innocence with unverifiable video recordings. The conservative newspaper Keyhan, which is considered the voice of hardliners, supported the account. This is sufficient to expose “the lies and stories of the opponents of the revolution and their companions”. This should mean, for example, well-known actresses in the country who have shown their hair without a hat in protest on Instagram in the past few days.
Criticism and morality police
Raisi, meanwhile, instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the background. A special team of experienced police officers and forensic pathologists should immediately start the investigation. There was also criticism of the moral police in parliament and from leading clerics, including ex-President Mohammad Khatami. In her view, the incident not only badly damaged the country’s reputation, but also that of Islam.
According to the critics, the outcry was not only directed against the actions of the moral police, but also against the Islamic regulations in the country. Many Iranians were outraged that a young woman had to die because of “a few strands of hair”. They criticized the strict dress code as outdated.
Iran has had strict dress codes for women since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. For just as long, however, women, especially in the metropolises, ignored them – much to the annoyance of ultra-conservative politicians. The government in Tehran and the hardliners in parliament have been trying for months to enforce Islamic laws more strictly. dpa