Why Iranian Women are Risking Everything By Burning Their Hijabs

Jonathan Guyer in Vox: It was not an isolated incident of police violence in Iran. But the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last week has captured the country’s attention. Amini was visiting the capital of Tehran, coming from the Kurdish province in the country’s northwest, and Iran’s so-called morality police detained her, allegedly for wearing the mandatory headscarf improperly. Several hours after entering police custody, she was in a coma. She died two days later. Iranian police claimed she died after a stroke and suffering cardiac arrest, but witnesses say she died after sustaining blows to the head, and shocking photos that spread online of Amini intubated in a hospital have galvanized the nation. Protesters have since taken to the streets in more than 50 cities across Iran. Authorities reportedly have killed as many as 36 people during demonstrations. The government has also restricted the internet, so the complete picture may not be available. But the growing arrests of human rights defenders, activists, and journalists are particularly troubling.

Demonstrators have defied the repressive government regularly in the past several years, often expressing economic grievances. Women have been central to Iranian politics of resistance since the 1979 revolution, and before. What’s different about these protests is the diversity of people out on the streets and the widespread nature of Iranian resistance, in cities big and small. The government may weather the emerging movement. Or Amini’s tragedy could prove to be Iran’s Mohamed Bouazizi — the Tunisian street-seller who self-immolated in December 2010 and helped catalyze the mass protests across the Middle East and North Africa that came to be the Arab Spring. More here.


Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Ali Ammaar Jafrey, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Usman Nazir