09/19/2022, 11.59
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Tehran, police: Mahsa Amini's death 'unfortunate accident'. Protest spreads

The wave of indignation over the death of the young woman arrested for not wearing the hijab continues. Her father denies rumours of pre-existing 'chronic illnesses'. From social networks to the streets there is a widespread feeling of anger against the abuses of the security forces, who reject the accusations calling them "cowardly". 

Tehran (AsiaNews) - In the face of the wave of popular indignation over the death of the young Mahsa Amini, which is spreading from social networks to the streets, the Iranian police are counter-attacking and speaking of an "unfortunate incident" in an attempt - in vain - to ease the tension.

According to the semi-official Fars news agency, this morning Commander Hossein Rahimi, head of the security forces in Tehran, rejected what he calls "cowardly accusations" made against "the Iranian police". He says he awaits 'the outcome of the investigation' into an event that must not be repeated, but at the same time points out that 'we will not stop working to protect security'.

The death last week of the 22-year-old woman (pictured), originally from Iranian Kurdistan and detained by the 'morality police' during a holiday in Tehran because she was not properly wearing the hijab, the compulsory veil, raised a wave of indignation and protest.

Even the ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi had to bow to the opening of an enquiry in an attempt to contain popular discontent. In the hours immediately following her death, the authorities spoke of a 'heart attack', while her family denounced a 'brutal beating' that induced a state of coma from which she never recovered. 

Throughout yesterday, meanwhile, protests over the death multiplied, and the hashtag #MahsaAmini trended on the web, especially on Persian-language Twitter, reviving the theme of women's rights and the obligation to wear the veil. In the evening, there were almost 1.7 million mentions on the popular social messaging network.

Recently, authorities in the Islamic Republic introduced facial recognition to identify - and punish - those who contravene the controversial rule. 

Interviewed by reformist website Emtedad, the young woman's father attacked the authorities for spreading the news that '"my daughter suffered from chronic medical conditions. I personally deny such claims as my daughter was fit and had no health problems". Also yesterday, hundreds of protesters gathered at the University of Tehran, shouting slogans such as 'Woman, Life, Freedom!'.

Protests and demonstrations (Photo 2) also characterised the young woman's funeral, which took place on 17 September in her hometown of Saqez, repressed by police deployed in riot gear. Chanting 'Death to Khamenei', the protesters threw stones at the image of the supreme leader and set it on fire. To prevent the protests from spreading, the authorities cut off internet connections in Saqqez, Sanandaj and other parts of the country. Dozens of people were reportedly injured in the clashes, but there is no confirmation from the local authorities.

According to sharia (Islamic law) in Iran, women are obliged to cover their hair with a veil and wear long, loose clothes. Those who contravene the norm are subject to public reprimands, fines and even arrest. In recent months, activist groups have campaigned against the hijab obligation, urging women to remove it despite police repression - religious and otherwise - for alleged 'immoral behaviour'. 

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