The sad death of Mahsa Amini occurred in the custody of Iran’s moral police about 100 days ago and it led to a series of protests in the country. The last 100 days have seen protests like no other in Iran where women cut their hair and burned hijabs in anger on the streets of Iran. Songs like “Woman, life, freedom” are sung in unison after the death of Mahsa Amini. While on the one hand the Iranian public is in great turmoil, the authorities refuse to give in.
The situation in Iran
After the death of Mahsa Amini, the situation in Iran is devastating. The anger of the general public, especially women, crosses all borders. The authorities have tried their best to silence the voice of the people by shutting down social media. However, the wind of protest seems to be picking up, especially as the widespread turmoil is evident in videos that are still showing up online. Theocratic rule in the country is what protesters in Iran, especially women, want to end once and for all.
The history of Iran in decades has not seen such a movement as the current one.
Look at the series of events that led to the revolution.
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First, who was Mahsa Amini, whose death caused a knock-on effect?
Mahsa Amini was a young, 22-year-old Iranian woman who was arrested on September 13, 2022 by Iran’s Guidance Patrol. Guidance Patrol is also known as the Morality Police. Mahsa Amini’s arrest, however, was not based on allegations that she did not wear the hijab properly. According to the moral police, Mahsa wore what is called a “bad hijab”, which meant that she wore a hijab, but in an inappropriate way.
Later, the 22-year-old woman was admitted to the Intensive Care Department of the hospital due to severe injuries she sustained as a result of being mistreated by the Manager, i.e. the moral police.
It was a picture of Mahsa Amini that went viral on the internet and showed her unconscious in a hospital bed, causing distress and anger in her locality. When the lady’s medical records were leaked, it was revealed that her skull was fractured. This news caused further outrage throughout the country.
On September 16, 2022, 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini passed away. On September 17, 2022, her funeral was held in Saqqez, her hometown. The shocking and sad death of the young lady created a ripple effect that led to massive protests across the country. At the funeral itself, the mourners gradually began to remove their headscarves. The mourners were so moved by the sad event and the funeral that the place of the funeral turned into a place of protest in the blink of an eye. The mourners started chanting “Death to the dictator” in extreme rage.
Not only her hometown of Saqqez but the entire country witnessed the ripple effect. The outrage prompted the entire country to protest. The revolution spread to the University of Tehran. Here people started shouting slogans like “woman, life, freedom”.
Iranian cities such as Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Rasht witnessed large-scale protests and clashes between protesters and security forces.
A widespread protest in Iran led to the shutdown of domestic and mobile internet. Moreover, in order to contain the growing protests and hatred, the authorities in Iran have closed access to social networks.
Limited access was provided to social media platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp on September 21, 2022. On the same day, many reports of numerous deaths in the protests came into focus. The direction of the protest did not stop with the shutdown of social media. People from all walks of life took to the streets and protested for justice. It was a time when the political leadership in Iran faced a major backlash and a strong challenge since the 1979 revolution.
Actions taken by Iran’s leaders
In the last three decades, Iran has not seen a single protest as large as this one. The leaders were therefore somewhat in a frozen state where it was difficult for them to swallow the heavy pill. This situation of confusion and shock led to a delay in taking proactive action to address the problem. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei accused the United States and Israel of fomenting “disorder” with the intention of destabilizing the country.
The leader expressed his condolences for Mahsa Amini. However, he also reiterated his disapproval of the large-scale protest that protesters held in the country. Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president, said Mahsa Amini’s death had “slain” the country. However, at the same time, the president warned that the “chaos” of the protests continues to such an extent that the security forces cannot handle them. Protesters chanted “Death to the dictator”.
How did Iran’s 2022 FIFA World Cup players support the protest?
The sports community of Iran was also shaken by the incident and therefore decided to speak out instead of remaining silent. The unjust death of Amini prompted Iran’s players at the 2022 FIFA World Cup to refuse to sing their national anthem in their first game against England. This move supported the anti-government protests that were taking place in Iran at the time. The match turned out to be in England’s favour, however, Iran’s message became a major focus. During this time, the country’s surveillance forces shot anyone seen participating in the protests.
The next thing that happened was the death of Colonel Esmael Charghi, which was announced by Iran on November 17. The death was caused by the violence caused by the protests. Three days later, authorities released a video showing three “confessions” claiming responsibility for the colonel’s death. Authorities have not released the names of the accused.
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The reaction of the world
Amini’s death led to a series of protests in Iran, particularly those demanding women’s rights and the end of the Islamic Republic. The US has continuously exerted strong pressure on Tehran. The USA has imposed sanctions on top Iranian officials, including some important military officials. The Iranian government’s crackdown on peaceful protests has also been condemned by the UN Human Rights Council. A key United Nations human rights official has insisted the Iranian government stop cracking down on protesters. However, it turned out that these efforts were in vain.
The Iranian government seemed unfazed by the powerful urges of the world and was determined to work according to its own will. For example, Mohsen Shekari, a young man who allegedly attacked a member of the Iranian security forces during the protest, was executed.
The death sentence handed down to the man was the first by the Iranian government for a person involved in the protest.
The second such execution by the Iranian government took place on December 12. It was when the authorities publicly hanged a person convicted of causing the death of two members of the security forces. Moreover, according to activists’ estimates, the Iranian government killed nearly a dozen people in closed-door hearings. According to human rights activists in Iran, approximately 488 people have been killed since the protests began in 2022.
There was a time when hijab was banned in Iran. This was when Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled in 1936, and the hijab was banned in an attempt to “modernize” Iran. It was a time when even the police discouraged ordinary people from wearing the hijab. However, the moral rules in the country changed according to the change of the ruling authorities in the country.
The current scenario is such that the Iranian authorities, despite massive protests, have refused to accede to any of the urges and demands raised by the protesters and the people of Iran.
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