DUBAI (Reuters) – Protests continued on Sunday and #MahsaAmini became one of the best hashtags ever on Twitter in Persian, as Iranians were outraged by the death of a young woman in the custody of the vice squad enforcing strict hijab rules.
Amini, 22, died Friday after slipping into a coma following her arrest in Tehran earlier this week. The case has put women’s rights in Iran in the spotlight.
Police dismissed suspicions broadcast on social media that she had been beaten and said she fell ill while waiting with other detained women.
“Authorities have said my daughter suffered from chronic medical conditions. Personally, I deny such claims because my daughter was fit and had no health problems,” Amini’s father told reformist Emtedad news website on Sunday.
Hundreds of protesters gathered around Tehran University on Sunday chanting “Woman, Life, Freedom,” according to online videos.
Reuters could not verify the images.
Under Iranian Sharia, or Islamic law, women are required to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothing. Violators face public reprimand, fines or arrest. But in recent months, activists have urged women to remove veils, despite the rulers’ crackdown on “immoral behavior”.
By Sunday afternoon, the Persian hashtag #MahsaAmini had reached 1.63 million mentions on Twitter.
Amini came from the Kurdistan region, where protests were also held on Saturday, including at the funeral in her hometown of Saqez.
Between 8 and 10 million Kurds live in Iran. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has been stirring unrest in the Kurdish areas of the country for decades, and the harsh judiciary has sentenced many activists to long prison terms or death.
The police suppressed the demonstrations in Saqez. According to videos posted online, at least one man suffered a head injury. Reuters could not verify the videos.
Behzad Rahimi, a member of parliament for Saqez, told the semi-official ILNA news agency that a few people were injured in the funeral. “One of them was hospitalized in Saqez after being hit in the gut by ball bearings,” he said.
However, the Kurdish rights group Hengaw said 33 people were injured in Saqez. Reuters could not independently confirm the number.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Frances Kerry)