DUBAI: Protests broke out in western Iran on Saturday at the funeral of a young woman, who died after being badly wounded by morality police enforcing strict hijab rules, as security forces used tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

Videos posted on social media showed protesters shouting anti-government slogans after gathering in Saqez, hometown of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, from nearby cities in Iran’s Kurdistan province as they mourned the young woman who died in a hospital in the capital Tehran on Friday.

Some protesters chanted “Death to the dictator” – a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while police fired tear gas.

In the past few months, rights activists have urged women to publicly remove their veils, a gesture that would risk their arrest for defying the Islamic dress code as the country’s hardline rulers crack down on “immoral behaviour”.

Videos posted on social media have shown cases of what appeared to be heavy-handed action by morality police units against women who had removed their hijab.

Authorities have launched probes into the death of Am­­ini, but a medical examiner said on Saturday results of forensic tests may take thr­ee weeks, state media reported.

Police said Amini was taken ill as she waited together with other detained women at a morality police station, rejecting allegations on social media that she was likely beaten.

Police released closed-circuit television footage apparently supporting their version of events. Reuters could not authenticate the video, which appeared to have been edited.

Police earlier said Amini had suffered a heart attack after being taken to the station to be “educated”. Her rela­t­ives have denied she suffered any heart condition.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2022

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