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Anti-hijab protests spreading in Iran: 8 killed; Net blocked

Countrywide protests erupted after Mahsa Amini, 22, arrested by morality police in Tehran for violating the hijab mandate, died of torture in custody.

TEHRAN, Sept 22: Violent anti-hijab protests in Iran by women continued on the sixth day on Thursday following the death of Mahsa Amini. Arson has also been reported. The authorities have restricted access to the internet. Over eight people have died in the violence so far.

Mahsa Amini, 22, had died in custody after she was arrested by the morality police while in Tehran on September 13 (Tuesday) for violating the Islamic dress code of hijab, a scarf that covers women's head. Witnesses said she was beaten up and hit on the head with a baton. She went into coma.

Hailing from the north-western city of Saqez, she died in a hospital on Friday.

Women across Iran are seen cutting off their hair and burning the hijab. Protests against the Government and the Islamic dress code have spread all over Iran after Mahsa Amini's death.

A woman was among three protesters shot dead by security forces in Urmia, Piranshahr and Kermanshah. Two civilians in Kermanshah as well as a police assistant in Shiraz were also killed. At least eight people have been killed since protests against the hijab laws and morality police began. A 16-year old boy and a 23-year old man were killed when security forces opened fire on protesters on Tuesday night in Piranshahr and Urmia, the Kurdish areas. Security forces also shot dead a woman at a protest in the neighbouring province of Kermanshah.

Among the dead were three male protesters killed by security forces in Kurdistan province on Monday - one in Saqez, Ms Amini's home city, and two others in the towns of Divandarreh and Dehgolan. Another man shot in Divandarreh that day succumbed to his wounds on Wednesday.

Amini's father is reported to have prevented Islamic prayers over her body. He told the mullah, "Your Islam denounced her, now you've come to pray over her? Aren't you ashamed of yourself? You killed her for 2 strands of hair! ... Take your Islam and go," according to a Twitter post.

Islamic dress code is strictly enforced in Iran. Violators are punished with fine, prison or flogging. The morality police was created to ensure compliance of the regressive Hijab code.

Mahsa Amini, who had come to Tehran from the country’s western Kurdish region.was arrested by the morality police on September 13 for not properly wearing the hijab, a Muslim dress that covers the head. She died three days later on Friday in hospital. The police said she had died of heart attack. She was buried in her native place. President Ebrahim Raisi said an investigation will be held.

Thereafter, protests erupted after her funeral in the Kurdish city of Saqez on Saturday and spread to other parts of the country, including Tehran. The demonstrators cried “death to the dictator” against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Basij guards on bikes beat up and dispersed the demonstrators in Tehran and other places.

Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif said, "Mahsa Amini's tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth."

There had been reports of highhandedness by the morality police and protests even before Amini's death. The resentment against the dress code had started in 2014. In a crackdown against the 2019 fuel price protests, 1,500 people were killed.

In the Iranian revolution of 1979, the ruling Shah dynasty was replaced by an Islamic Republic headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Sharia law was clamped. Restrictions on women's conduct became strict.

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