Iran’s anti-hijab protest: What you need to know

Shanzay Salman

Shanzay Salman

Features Editor

The anti-hijab protest in Iran has been gaining momentum, as women protest the death  of 22-year old Mahsa Amini who had been detained for breaking hijab laws. Here’s all you should know about the ongoing protest and the outrage around it!

What really happened?

Public anger broke out on Friday since authorities announced the death of a 22-year old woman following her arrest by Tehran’s “morality police” during a visit to the capital on September 13. The incident unleashed a flood of simmering anger among women in the country.

Why is Mahsa Amimi trending?

Mahsa Amini, an ethnic Kurd who was from the Kurdistan province, died in hospital on Friday after spending three days in a coma. Amini was arrested for violating the Islamic nation’s conservative dress code, outside a metro station in Tehran on Tuesday by morality police. They accused her of breaking the law requiring women to cover their hair with a headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

According to witnesses, she was beaten while inside a police van that took her to a detention centre. Police rejected the allegation and said she suffered “sudden heart failure” while waiting with other women at the facility to be “educated”. She lost her life  in a hospital after three days in a coma.

What are the Hijab Laws?

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, authorities in Iran imposed a compulsory dress code requiring all women to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothing that hides their figures in public.

Morality police – known formally as “Gasht-e Ershad” (Guidance Patrols) – are tasked, among other things, with ensuring women conform with the authorities’ interpretation of “proper” clothing. Officers have the power to stop women and judge them. Punishments for violating the rules include a fine, prison or flogging.

The Protest

Demonstrations were held in Tehran, including in several universities, and the second city Mashhad. The unrest in rose to another level as protesters marched down Hijab Street or “headscarf street” condemning the morality police.

Soon after, a video went viral of a woman chopping her hair in public in the capital. Upon seeing this, several women on social media started uploading their videos of chopping off hair and setting their hijabs on fire.