Anti-government protests grow in Iran after a woman died in police custody

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly consults with reporter Golnaz Esfandiari about the current demonstrations in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was detained for presumably breaking hijab guidelines.


In Iran, females are burning their headscarves, and demonstrations are sweeping lots of cities. The demonstrations follow the death of a girl who was jailed by Iran’s so-called morality authorities, who imposed the nation’s guidelines on using hijab. Human rights groups have actually reported a number of deaths from these occasions. Well, Golnaz Esfandiari has actually been covering this for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Golnaz Esfandiari, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

GOLNAZ ESFANDIARI: Thank you for having me.

KELLY: First, simply inform us rapidly a bit about Mahsa Amini. This is the girl who passed away recently.

ESFANDIARI: Mahsa Amini was22 She was checking out Tehran from her home town of Kurdistan. She was apprehended by the morality cops, presumably for breaking the hijab guideline, which ended up being obligatory following the 1979 transformation. She was detained on September13 3 days later on, she passed away. The authorities states that she had an abrupt cardiovascular disease while in detention, however activists and others have actually stated that she was tortured or beaten in the head, which’s why she passed away.

KELLY: And we must keep in mind, her household states that she was healthy …


KELLY: … A healthy 22- year-old female. Her death has actually triggered demonstrations, as I state, that are getting larger rather than smaller sized, it appears, and throughout numerous cities throughout Iran. How has this specific case, how has the hijab end up being such a flashpoint?

ESFANDIARI: Look; I believe the important things extremely essential to understand is that when Iranian ladies see what took place to Mahsa, they believe it might have occurred to them since you barely discover an Iranian lady who has actually not been either alerted or apprehended or bugged by the morality authorities. We all understand – we’ve all had this experience. And I was speaking with numerous ladies in Iran, and they informed me, look; even if she wasn’t tortured, however she most likely passed away from worry – she had a cardiovascular disease from worry – since they understand how frightening this is.

And this hijab has actually been troubled Iranian females – they do not have an option – for 4 years, and the facility has actually utilized propaganda. It’s all over. You see posters promoting the hijab. They utilize likewise force. They utilize the morality authorities, which is essentially a tool of state violence versus females. You understand, individuals have actually had enough. Ladies have actually had enough. As you stated, they’re burning their headscarfs in public. They’re burning signs of the Islamic Republic. They’re burning signs of state violence versus ladies.

KELLY: How are Iran’s leaders reacting? I saw that today, Friday, the federal government was requiring pro-government demonstrations.

ESFANDIARI: Yes, precisely. They’ve staged state-sponsored demonstrations today in lots of cities to generally counter this anti-establishment demonstrations that have actually been taking place for a week. And they’ve been likewise utilizing force versus protesters. There are reports of a minimum of 30 – that 30 individuals have actually been eliminated. And they’ve likewise enforced web – really extreme web limitations.

KELLY: Just things like closing down Instagram, closing down the methods individuals can interact?

ESFANDIARI: Shutting down WhatsApp and definitely – so individuals have – it’s been really hard for individuals to get online. Regardless of all these steps, as you stated, we’ve had demonstrations even in extremely, extremely conservative cities – in Rome. Rome, you understand, is the Iranian Vatican.

KELLY: This comes as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has actually been extremely ill. He just recently canceled all his conferences. Is it reasonable to state this feels a more uncertain minute than we’ve seen in a long time – in years – in Iran?

ESFANDIARI: I concur. There are the reports and reports about Khamenei’s death. He appeared in public after 2 weeks, and remarkably, he didn’t state a word about all these demonstrations. It includes pressure to the federal government, which we’ve seen demonstrations over the economy on an almost everyday basis in the previous month. And there’s likewise a deadlock in the nuclear talks, which might offer Iran some sort of financial relief. Yeah, it’s a really delicate minute for Iran.

KELLY: Journalist Golnaz Esfandiari – she’s a senior reporter with Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty based in Prague. Thank you.

ESFANDIARI: Thank you a lot.


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