23 September 2022
Protests have spread across Iran in recent days. They began after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while being held by the morality police for violating the country's Islamic dress rules.
What caused the protests in Iran?
Iran's morality police arrested Amini on September 13 in Tehran. She was visiting there from her hometown in the country's western Kurdish area. She collapsed at a police station and died three days later.
Police held her for reportedly wearing a head covering, or hijab, too loosely. Iran requires women to wear a head covering in a way that completely covers their hair in public.
The police denied Amini was mistreated and said she died of a heart attack.
Amini's family said she had no history of heart problems. The family said they were prevented from seeing her body before she was buried. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi promised an investigation into her death.
The demonstration started after her funeral in the Kurdish city of Saquez last Saturday. Many Iranians have come to see Amini's death as part of the Islamic Republic's severe policing of dissent and violent treatment of young women.
What is happening in Iran?
The street protests began with women taking off their legally required head coverings, with some cutting their hair in public. Then, protestors in the capital Tehran and other Iranian cities set police stations and vehicles on fire.
Nine security force members were killed in the unrest. An official said that 76 others were injured in the Mazandaran area. And police in the Kurdistan area said more than 100 security forces were wounded.
Reports by Kurdish rights group Hengaw said 15 people had died in Kurdish areas and 733 had been injured. A video, posted on the social media Twitter account 1500tasvir, showed in the northeast, protestors shouted "We will die, we will die but we will get Iran back."
Reuters news agency said it did not have independent confirmation of the rights group report or the video.
The watch group Netblocks reported that the internet was disrupted in the country. It is a possible sign that officials fear the protests will increase.
The United States Treasury Department said the U.S. placed sanctions on Iran's morality police. It accused them of abuse and violence against Iranian women and of violating the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors. It also blamed the morality police responsible for the death of Amini.
How are women treated in Iran?
Iranian women can go to school, work outside the home and hold public office. But they are required to cover themselves in public by wearing hijabs and long, loose-fitting robes. Unmarried men and women are barred from spending time together.
The rules, which date back to the days after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, are enforced by the morality police.
Enforcement was eased under former President Hassan Rouhani. In 2017, the head of the force said it would no longer arrest women for violating the rules.
But under Raisi, who was elected last year, the morality police returned to enforce the rules. The U.N. human rights office said in recent months women have been hit in the face, hit with sticks, and pushed into police vehicles.
I'm Gregory Stachel.
Joseph Krauss reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English with additional reporting from Reuters.
Words in This Story
loose – adj. not tightly fastened, attached, or held
disrupt – v. to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way
sanction – n. an action taken to force a country to obey international laws by limiting trade or aid to the country
robe – n. a long, loose piece of clothing that is worn on top of other clothes to show that someone has a high rank or an important job