Female protesters have been at the forefront of escalating protests in Iran and have been burning headscarves, after the death in custody of a woman detained for breaking hijab laws. Mahsa Amini died in hospital on Friday after spending three days in a coma. Ms Amini was arrested in the capital last week by Iran's morality police, accused of breaking the law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing. There were reports that morality police beat Ms Amini's head with a baton and banged her head against one of their vehicles,
Demonstrations have continued for five successive nights, and reached several towns and cities. In Sari, north of Tehran, large crowds cheered as women set their hijabs alight in defiant acts of protest. In Tehran, videos posted online showed women taking off their headscarves and shouting "death to the dictator" - a chant often used in reference to the Supreme Leader. Others shouted, "justice, liberty, no to mandatory hijab". In the northern province of Gilan, protesters also clashed with police. Many protests were peaceful, including the placing of a banner depicting Amini on a bridge across one of Tehran’s main highways.
A woman who took part in a protest on Monday night in the northern city of Rasht sent BBC Persian photographs of what she said were bruises she suffered as a result of being beaten by riot police with batons and hoses.
"The police kept firing tear gas. Our eyes were burning," she said. "We were running away, [but] they cornered me and beat me. They were calling me a prostitute and saying I was out in the street to sell myself.
Another woman who protested in the central city of Isfahan told the BBC: "While we were waving our headscarves in the sky I felt so emotional to be surrounded and protected by other men. It feels great to see this unity. I hope the world supports us."
Hengaw, a Norway-based organisation that monitors human rights in predominantly Kurdish areas, said 38 people were injured on Saturday and Sunday when riot police fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas at protests in Saqez and Sanandaj, the capital of Iran's Kurdistan province. Three people were killed on Monday as security forces opened fire on protesters. one in Saqez and two others in the towns of Divandarreh and Dehgolan as the unrest escalated. It had previously reported the death of aanother man in Divandarreh, but relatives said he was in a critical condition in hospital. It added that 221 people had been wounded and another 250 arrested in the Kurdistan region, where there had also been a general strike on Monday.
The UN Human Rights Office said Iran’s morality police had been expanding their patrols in recent months, targeting women for not properly wearing the Islamic headscarf, known as hijab. It said verified videos showed women being slapped in the face, struck with batons and thrown into police vans for wearing the hijab too loosely.
Iran protests: Women burn headscarves in anti-hijab protests - BBC News
Nine people are now reported to have been killed at protests in Iran sparked by the death of a woman detained for allegedly breaking strict hijab rules.
Among those reported killed is a 16-year-old boy, shot dead when security forces opened fire on protesters.
The unrest has spread to more than 20 major cities, including the capital Tehran.
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