In Iran, the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody of the country’s morality police last week has sparked sweeping protests internationally, calling not only for an end to the hijab mandate, but also to the Islamic Republic.
The morality police, which enforce Iran’s requirements for women to behave and dress conservatively, arrested Amini in Tehran on Sept. 13 after they accused her of violating the hijab law. She died three days later of what police said was a heart attack, but her family and protesters argue that wasn’t the case.
Iranian police have released closed-circuit footage showing Amini collapsing on the back of a chair at a detention center before falling to the floor. Her family has accused authorities of lying about her death and argued that she had no pre-existing heart condition, according to Emtedad news, an Iranian pro-reform media outlet.
Since her death, outraged Iranians have led protests across dozens of cities. Some female protesters burned their hijabs or cut their hair in an act of defiance. The government reported Thursday that 17 people, including two security officers, had died since demonstrations began. Mobile networks have been disrupted and access to Instagram and WhatsApp has been restricted.
Protests have also spread internationally, including in Lebanon, Germany, Turkey the U.S. and Greece.
The United Nations has called for an impartial inquiry into Amini’s death. “We strongly condemn the use of physical violence against women and the denial of fundamental human dignity when enforcing compulsory hijab policies ordained by State authorities,” UN experts said in a Sept. 22 statement. Her death has also drawn criticism from the U.S., which is trying to revive the Iranian Nuclear Deal.
Senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi, have promised an investigation will ensue. In the meantime, the protests have morphed into a broader critique of the ruling party—criticizing not only an infringement on women’s rights but also anger over the effects of crippling U.S. sanctions on the economy and corruption.