Lifting the Veil

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Iranian authorities launched a violent crackdown on protesters demonstrating over the death of a 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of the country’s “morality police,” the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The newspaper reported that five protesters allegedly died after being fired upon by police.

The unrest began over the weekend following the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who was detained by the morality police last week for violating the country’s notorious hijab law, which requires women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes.

Officials said Amini was wearing a hijab that was not suitable. They added that the young woman had a heart attack and slipped into a coma while in custody, before being taken to the hospital where she died.

Amini’s family countered that their daughter was healthy, while activists said the young woman was beaten by the morality police.

Her death has sparked mass outrage over the government’s increasingly strict enforcement of ultra-conservative dress codes for women.

Mass demonstrations have swept a number of Iranian cities over the past few days with reports of protesters clashing with security forces, burning headscarves and condemning Iran’s supreme leader. Human rights organizations said at least five people have died in the clashes but the government has not confirmed any deaths.

The incident also prompted international condemnation from Western countries and the United Nations Human Rights Office: The latter urged an independent investigation into Amini’s case.

Iranian authorities, meanwhile, have launched their own investigation.

The wearing of the hijab has been compulsory in Iran since the 1979 revolution but the current, ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi has called for even stricter enforcement of the dress code in recent months.

Last month, a video surfaced showing a woman seized by Iran’s patrols being tossed from a speeding van.

This summer, some Iranian women took pictures of themselves without headscarves and posted them on social media as a protest movement against the government’s stricter hijab rules.

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