Iranian women shave heads and burn hijabs on TikTok to protest death of Mahsa Amini

Protests were sparked when a 22-year-old died after being detained by Iran’s so-called morality police

Kate Ng
Wednesday 21 September 2022 09:24 BST
Protests erupt in Iran over woman's death in police custody

Iranian women have been using TikTok as platform to protest the death of Mahsa Amini last week, by posting videos of themselves shaving their heads, cutting their hair and burning hijabs.

It comes as the 22-year-old woman’s death sparked a wave of protests across the country, following her death after being detained by Iran’s so-called morality police.

Amini was in Tehran with her family when she was arrested for wearing an “improper hijab”. She was allegedly beaten and died on Friday (16 September), three days after being detained.

Tehran’s police chief Hossein Rahimi has denied the allegations and said claims that Amini was mistreated in any way are “completely false”.

According to local reports, police said she suffered a heart attack, but her family has insisted she had no health problems and alleged she was assaulted while in custody of the morality police.

The public anger that erupted over her death has seen an outbreak of political unrest in Iran, with protests reported in Tehran, Qazvin, Arak, Mashhad, and several other cities.

Women who are unable to take part in the protests have turned to TikTok to express their outrage at Amini’s death, with the hashtag #mahsaamini receiving more than 66m views at the time of writing.

A number of videos show Iranian women cutting their hair or the bottom of their hijabs in solidarity with Amini, who was punished under the Islamic republic’s strict dress code that demands women wear headscarves in public.

One TikToker who posted a video of herself snipping her hijab wrote in the caption: “I cannot show the video of me cutting my hair out of [sic] religious reasons so as a symbol of solidarity I made a video cutting my scarf as well in order to spread the message.”

Another woman, who cuts her long hair in her video, wrote: “Say her name, bring her justice, Mahsa Amini.”

Others have taken their hair protest a step further by shaving their heads entirely. Some men have also joined in on the protest and shaved their hair off in solidarity with Iranian women.

Since the protests began, five people have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

In the city of Saqez in the Kurdish region, two people died after authorities opened fire on protesters. A further two people died in Divandarreh city, while a fifth was killed in Dehgolan.

The head of the morality police was reportedly suspended following the deaths.

Amini’s death has been condemned by other countries including France and the US. A spokesperson from the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described it as a “killing”.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International responded to the incident: “The circumstances leading to the suspicious death in custody of 22-year-old young woman Mahsa Amini, which include allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, must be criminally investigated.

“The so-called ‘morality police’ in Tehran arbitrarily arrested her three days before her death while enforcing the country’s abusive, degrading and discriminatory forced veiling laws. All agents and officials responsible must face justice.”

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