The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Anger against Iran’s ‘morality police’ erupts after death of Mahsa Amini

By Joyce Sohyun Lee, Stefanie Le, Atthar Mirza, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Kareem Fahim

22 Sep 2022 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

The Washington Post explains why women across Iran are burning their headscarves as part of an increasingly emboldened protest movement that is spreading across the country.

The protests started small, outside the Tehran hospital where a 22-year old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died last week after being detained by the “morality police” for an untold violation of the country’s harsh strictures on women’s dress. By Tuesday, the protests were racing across the country, in a burst of grief, anger and defiance. Many were led by women, who burned their headscarves, cut their hair and chanted, “Death to the dictator.”

The ferocity of the protests is fueled by outrage over many things at once: the allegations that Amini was beaten in custody before she collapsed and fell into a coma; the priorities of Iran’s government, led by ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi, who has strictly enforced dress codes and empowered the hated morality police at a time of widespread economic suffering; and the anguish of Amini’s family, ethnic Kurds from a rural area of Iran, whose expressions of pain and shock have resonated across the country.

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