Iranian woman ‘beaten’ by police for ‘improper hijab’ dies after coma: State media

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Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who earlier this week fell into a coma shortly after being arrested and allegedly “beaten” by Iran’s morality police for “improper hijab” has died, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Friday.

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Amini had earlier this week traveled from Iran’s Kurdistan province to the capital Tehran to visit relatives when she was arrested by Iran’s morality police, known as “Gasht-e Ershad,” for “improper hijab” – that is, not fully covering her hair.

Iran’s police had said Amini “suffered a heart problem” while in detention – an assertion activists reject. They say Amini was beaten by police officers.

“Tehran’s police announced that Mahsa Amini ‘suddenly suffered from a heart problem’ - as if a 22-year-old woman has a heart attack that causes a coma and disfigurement naturally. Iranian media are publishing this nonsense as fact,” Mahsa Alimardani, a digital-rights researcher with the human rights organization ARTICLE 19, wrote on Twitter.

Hijab, which was made mandatory for women in Iran shortly after the country’s 1979 revolution, is considered a red line for Iran’s theocratic rulers. Women who break the strict dress code risk being harassed and arrested by Iran’s morality police.

Based on the dress code, women are required to fully cover their hair in public and wear long, loose-fitting clothes.

Amini’s story has sparked outrage on social media, both from inside and outside Iran.

“What does the supreme leader [Ali Khamenei], who rightly denounced the US police in the death of George Floyd, say about the Iranian police’s treatment of Mahsa Amini?” Mahmoud Sadeghi, a former member of Iran’s parliament, wrote on Twitter on Friday.

One person with the Twitter handle @rezahajilou pointed out that Amini’s right ear looked bloody in a widely shared image of her lying in a hospital bed.

“Mahsa Amini’s ears have bled. Most likely, her skull was broken and her ears were bleeding due to a severe beating. The heart attack story is a lie. We are dealing with a terrible crime,” the person tweeted.

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