Protests have been erupting all over Iran following 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death while in police custody.
Amini, whose Kurdish name was Jhina, was arrested in Tehran on September 13 by the “morality police,” which enforces a strict dress code in the country of Iran. Amini was taken into custody for “unsuitable attire,” as reported by Reuters, after being accused of breaking the country’s rules on hijab wear. The rules stipulate that women must cover their hair as well as wear long, loose-fitting clothes. As reported by the New York Times, morality police enforce the rules arbitrarily, with verbal rebukes, fines, or even assault.
Protests, which as the Times notes have been mainly led by women, began soon after Amini’s death on September 16th. According to local reports, she fell into a coma following her arrest and subsequently died in custody. Along with taking to the streets, some Iranian women have been protesting online in other ways.
On September 18, Twitter user @ShinD1982 posted a video where she chops her hair off emotionally as an act of symbolic opposition to the law. The video has since accumulated almost half a million views. In a moving tribute, her caption was simply a hashtag with Amini’s name.
Women across the internet have been following suit across social media platforms. Videos with variations of the tag #MahsaAmini have garnered more than 135 million views on TikTok, with women burning their hijabs and chopping their hair in a defiant act of opposition against the law and in solidarity with Amini.
On the streets, many women are also removing and burning their hijabs, with some men also joining in solidarity. “This video brought tears to my eyes,” Iranian journalist and activist Alinejad Masih shared on Twitter, along with a shared video of a protest in Tehran showing a group burning a hijab. “The woman who took the video says; our dream comes true. Finally, we are burning the symbol of our oppression in the street.”