The shocking incident of a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in police custody has fueled widespread protests across Iran.
Mahsa Amini was taken to a police station on Friday in the Iranian capital by members of Gasht e Ershad, the country’s morality police, for alleged violation of the Islamic dress code.
The CCTV footage released by the police showed Amini losing consciousness inside the police station, before being transferred to a hospital where she was declared dead.
What transpired between her detention and death remains shrouded in mystery, with police and her family members offering conflicting versions of the incident.
The resurgence of the morality police in recent months has reignited the long-running debate about mandatory hijab in Iran, with many incidents reported since July.
Amini’s death, however, has sent ripples of rage across the country, prompting authorities to order high-level judicial probes.
After the news broke out on Friday, leading to spontaneous protests, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was in Uzbekistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit at the time, asked the Interior Ministry to investigate the incident with “urgency and precision.”
The ministry subsequently formed a special committee to examine different aspects of Amini’s death, with the help of forensic experts, even as protests grew louder.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi said the forensic examination was underway and the final report will be released soon.
He rejected reports that the 22-year-old woman was beaten in police custody, echoing the police version that Amini suffered cardiac arrest at the police station.
However, her family alleged foul play, referring to bruises on her body.
In an interview with the semi-official Fars News Agency on Sunday, Amini’s father said the girl and her brother had gotten off the metro when they were taken in a police car, rejecting the CCTV footage released by the police.
He also said his daughter was transferred to the hospital late, which led to her cardiac arrest, asserting that she had no medical history and was in good health.
The shocking incident has brought people into the streets in different cities in the last few days. On Monday, a massive protest rally was held at Tehran University with protesters demanding justice and accountability.
Several videos shared on social media showed women cutting their hair in protest.
On Sunday, videos circulating online from Amini’s funeral in her hometown in western Kurdistan province showed women taking off their veils and raising vociferous slogans.
Since the incident took place on Friday, many local reformist-leaning newspapers have highlighted the issue on their front pages, reflecting the mood in the country.
Iran’s top judiciary official, Mohseni Ejei, said in a statement on Monday he has ordered the country’s judicial bodies of conducting a thorough investigation into the case.
Meanwhile, reports about the sacking of the chief of morality police in Tehran were denied by police in a statement late on Monday.