Mahsa Amini: The Spark That Lit the Fire

Photo from reuters.com

It starts with a girl. Her name is Mahsa Amini.

She was a 22-year-old woman from Saqqez, a Kurdish province in Iran, who was visiting the capital Tehran with her family. She was murdered on September 16, 2022, after being detained by the Iranian morality police. While Amini’s death is part of a bigger story of injustice, her death garnered thousands of women around the world to cut their hair in solidarity. Protests continue to rage across Iran in response to Amini’s unruly death.

Photo from CNN.com

To understand the fury, we have to begin at the 1979 Islamic revolution. Millions of Persians protested against the removal of the Shah, the imperial dynasty that ruled Iran from 1925-1979. The revolution ended the dynasty and established the Islamic Republic of Iran known presently. In that same year, the republic instilled a strict dress code for women, which requires women to cover their legs, ankles, waist and arms. All females over the age of nine must wear a hijab to cover their hair fully. The police force also established the morality police, a unit that monitors citizen’s clothing, hair, behavior and deemed respect to Islam and the Republic.

Mahsa Amini was detained by Iran’s morality police for violating dress code enforcements. Why? For wearing a loose hijab. While her brother Mortezaee pleaded that they were unfamiliar with the customs, the police sprayed pepper spray Mortezaee and began to beat his sister. She was in a coma for three days before Amini was pronounced dead. Her confirmed cause of death was cardiac arrest. Iranian authorities initially denied being involved in Amini’s death, igniting the hurl of revolutions. They have been going on for 13 consecutive days since the incident.

The Response

Iranian public outcry has reached social media and put the outrage into the hands of the global public. Amini’s story is not the first to showcase police and government brutality in Iran in recent years, but it is the one that has seen a worldwide collusion.

On TikTok, tons of Persian and Non-Persian creators have made videos bringing awareness to the situation and share ways to help. The reason why this matters is because Iran heavily censors Persian media, and people can be arrested, killed or detained for speaking against the Republic. Influencer @chimpgal (Nika Sadros) reiterated that “Iranians need us to be their voice.”

NowThis on TikTok also posted a video detailing why women around the world are cutting their hair to stand with Amini and the other women in Iran who have been subject to abuse and harassment by the Persian police force. Videos like these have caught attention, forcing people to consider what kind of system allows violence against women to thrive.

What This Means For the Future

Things are certainly precarious in Iran, as it has been roughly two weeks since the incident. No system, or force, shifts overnight, but public pressure from thousands of people in Iran certainly changes an outcome. The Persian government continues to attempt to shut down protests and riots, killing 76 people and arresting 1,200 people as of September 29th, 2022.

Eyes turn to Iran from as people wait for justice to be brought to Mahsa Amini, her family and the millions of women in Iran from the past, present and future. May Amini’s death light a pathway for the future where women in Iran are not bodily governed, are autonomous in their own right and can visit the capital city without the fear of death because of men’s utopia of pure, sexless women.

May Mahsa Amini Rest In Peace. Follow @VALLEYmag to keep up with this news and more.

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