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The Amini protests: Iran’s Supreme Leader must be puzzled as to how to handle such a challenge



As has been previously reported at Jihad Watch, in Tehran several days ago, the Morality Police (Gasht e-Ershad) arrested a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, outside a metro station. Her hijab, in their view, had not been properly affixed. Eyewitnesses saw her being shoved into a van and being beaten, before the van drove off. Sometime shortly after, she fell into a coma, and three days later, the formerly healthy young woman was dead. A leading Iranian lawyer says that her death was the result of a blow to the back of the head. The Iranian government denies this, and claims that it will “investigate” the incident. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets of Tehran and cities in Kurdistan (Mahsa Amini was a Kurd from the city of Saqez), where over several days they have been shouting not only “justice for Amini” and “death to those who killed our sister,” but something far more dangerous for the regime: “Death to the Dictator!” There have also been denunciations of the Iranian regime on social media, where the hashtag about Mahsa Amini has now appeared 1.6 million times.

 A report on this latest savagery by the Morality Police, and the outrage that has erupted against not only them, but against the Supreme Leader , can be found here: “Anger swells as Iranian woman dies after arrest by notorious morality police,” by Stuart Williams, Times of Israel, September 17, 2022:

A young Iranian woman who fell into a coma after being arrested in Tehran by the notorious morality police died on Friday, state media and her family said, with activists urging those responsible for her “suspicious” death to be brought to justice.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was on a visit with her family to the Iranian capital when she was detained on Tuesday by the police unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women, which includes the compulsory wearing of the headscarf in public.

Amini was, according to reports, wearing the hijab, but she had not, in the view of the morality police who arrested her, affixed it properly. So they detained her outside a metro station in Tehran, and shoved her into a van, where eyewitnesses say the morality police began to beat her. She fell into a coma, and three days later she was dead.

“Unfortunately, she died and her body was transferred to the medical examiner’s office,” Iranian state television reported.

Persian-language media, including the Iran Wire website and the Shargh newspaper, have quoted her family as saying that the previously healthy Amini had been rushed to hospital in a coma a few hours after her arrest and had now died.

It is not yet clear what happened between her arrival at the police station and her departure for the hospital. The 1500tavsir channel, which monitors violations in Iran, said she had suffered a blow to the head.

We now know that sometime after her beating — which may have continued in the police station — she then fell into a coma, and died three days later.

Images posted on social media showed crowds gathering outside the hospital where she was being treated and police trying to disperse the dozens who had gathered.

People were also shown angrily shouting anti-regime slogans later in the evening in Tehran.

“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,” Amnesty International said.

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,” it added.

There are contradictory stories as to when Mahsa Amini died. Some say it was within a few hours of being taken into custody, while others claim she fell into a coma on Tuesday and died in a hospital three days later. But what is not in dispute is that she was in perfect health when seized by the morality police and died because of something that was done to her when in their custody. Whether she died after three hours, or after three days, doesn’t matter – she was murdered by the morality police.

US President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, denounced her death.

“We are deeply concerned by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was reportedly beaten in custody by Iran’s morality police,” he tweeted Friday.

Her death is unforgivable. We will continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for such human rights abuses.”

Also on Twitter, prominent Iranian lawyer Saeed Dehghan described Amini’s death as a “murder,” saying she had suffered a blow to the head which had caused the base of her skull to fracture.’’

Saeed Dehghan has no reason to lie; one can well imagine the morality police becoming enraged with this woman who apparently put up resistance to their manhandling her; the Gashd e-Ershad are unused to women fighting back; Mahsa Amini came from Iranian Kurdistan, where dress codes are not enforced as they are in Tehran. According to the lawyer Saeed Delghan, a member of the morality police struck her on the back of her head; that strike proved fatal. The Tehran police first put out a story that she had had no physical contact with the morality police who had detained her; this story, contradicted by eyewitnesses, was met with widespread anger, and street protests, in Tehran and Iranian Kurdish cities, protests that have continued for almost a week after she was first detained. 

State television broadcast images on Friday purportedly showed her falling to the ground inside a large hall full of women while arguing with one of the female instructors about her dress.

Such a scene can, of course, have been staged by the police, with a carefully covered stand-in, viewed from the back, for Mahsa Amini. Too many eyewitnesses saw her being beaten once she had been forced into the van. And the distinguished lawyer Saeed Delghan would never have made such a damning charge – that Mahsa Amini had been hit on the back of the head – were he not absolutely certain of its truth. He has too much to lose, at the very least, his livelihood, were he to have made a false accusation.

In a statement on Friday, Tehran police insisted “there was no physical encounter” between officers and Amini.

It said Amini was among a number of women who were taken to a police station for “instruction” on the dress code on Tuesday.

“She suddenly fainted while with other visitors in the hall,” the statement said.

Most implausible. Remember, there are eyewitnesses who have said that they saw Mahsa Amini being forced into the van by the morality police who, they claim, started to beat her just as soon as she was shoved into the back of the vehicle. They would not dare to lie about such a matter; that could mean years in prison.

The regime has been frightened by the size and virulence of the crowds protesting Amini’s death, particularly in the Kurdish cities. Amini was a Kurd, and the Kurds of Iran have long felt persecuted by the Persian state. To quiet things down, President Raisi has ordered an investigation that, one can be certain, will confirm the police version, according to which Amini simply “fell down,”and then went into a coma, and eventually died, without the police playing any role in her death. A heart attack, a stroke, a brain aneurysm? How likely are any of those to have befallen a healthy 22-year-old woman?

The head of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi, described her death as a “preventable tragedy.”…

Her death was “preventable” — if only the monstrous Morality Police had not been roaming the streets looking for women to chastise and detain, and coming upon Amini, decided that her hijab was not affixed in an Islamically acceptable manner. Whether the blow that ultimately killed her was delivered by the morality police who first detained her, or the regular police to whom she was turned over, is not known. But one or the other was responsible for what should never have been: a murderous attack on a helpless woman who threatened no one.

In July, a video of a woman standing in front of one of the force’s vans, pleading for her daughter’s release, went viral on social media.

The veiled woman kept holding on to the van as it pulled off, only being thrown clear after it gathered speed.

Also in July, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.

She was held by the Revolutionary Guards and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.


Two examples from July of the headscarf crackdown, that were posted on social media, and have prompted widespread rage over the Gasht e-Ershad enforcement of the hijab requirement: first, the mother vainly clinging to the van of the morality police as it sped away, taking her daughter away, to be punished for not wearing the hijab; second, the woman who was forced to make a mea-maxima-culpa confession on television about her wickedness in not wearing a hijab.

Activists accuse Iran of being in the throes of a major crackdown that is affecting all areas of society, including a new push against the Bahai religious minority, death sentences for gays, a surge in executions and arrests of foreign nationals.

The death of Mahsa Amini has struck a chord in the Iranian public, because it is already enduring a crackdown by the regime on other targets of its malevolence. These include the Baha’is, who are now being persecuted and imprisoned with unusual ferocity, simply for being Baha’is; homosexuals, subject to public executions by being hung from cranes; those accused of such islamic crimes as “blasphemy” and “apostasy,” and foreign nationals who are arrested and expelled on the flimsiest evidence of “anti-Islamic behavior.” 

Meanwhile, those cries of “Death to the Dictator” have not stopped, and the Supreme Leader must be puzzled as to how to handle such a challenge to his rule. Should he answer that demand with a hard fist, to smash the protestors, to arrest and sentence them all to prison? Or should he choose the “iron fist in a velvet glove,” to “softly” suppress those protesters, rounding up only a handful of the ringleaders, and meting out to them light jail sentences of one to two years and leaving the rest alone? Or what about dealing with those protestors without any fist at all, but instead demonstrating the regime’s willingness to punish those in the morality police who murdered Mahsa Amini? Such unwonted good sense might just work.