How Mahsa Amini became a symbol of resistance in Iran
When 22-year-old Mahsa Amini took a trip to Tehran, Iran, on September 13, she could never have known that it would be her last.
It was on this visit that Amini was arrested by the Middle Eastern nation's so-called "morality police," after they alleged she was wearing an inappropriate hijab.
Her brother, who was with her at the time, was told she would be released after attending a "briefing class" at a local detention center. That was the last time he ever saw his sister.
CCTV footage eventually emerged, showing Amini collapsing to the ground after her arrest. She was eventually brought to a hospital, where The Guardian reported: "Resuscitation was performed on the patient, the heartbeat returned and the patient was admitted to the intensive care unit. Unfortunately, after 48 hours on Friday, the patient suffered a cardiac arrest again, due to brain death. Despite the efforts of the medical team, they failed to revive her and the patient died."
According to her family, witnesses saw Amini being beaten by police in the patrol van, causing lasting damage that would have rendered her brain dead and in a coma. Though, officials have alleged Amini had epilepsy, diabetes, and suffered a heart attack, Al Jazeera reported.
Her family has strongly refuted this claim, stating that she was in perfect health.
News of her disturbing murder angered women across the globe, galvanizing them into protests across the world, with hundreds erupting across Iran. Some women have even resorted to burning their hijabs and cutting their hair as a symbol of solidarity with Amini.
In the days following her death, Iran has restricted access to WhatsApp and Instagram, and severe internet shortages have affected many places across the country, per Al Jazeera.
Much of the anger felt has stemmed from the harsh restrictions on freedom women in Iran endure on a daily basis. Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), spoke on this, stating: "Mahsa Amini is one among countless victims of the Islamic Republic's war on women."
"She was arrested under the guise of the state's forced-hijab law and died shortly after. The government is responsible for her death and decades of women being harassed, detained and otherwise harmed under the guise of this discriminatory, inhuman law," he added, per IranHumanRights.org.
CHRI has implored the international community to hold Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, accountable for Amini's death and mounting human rights violations - especially as he is at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. It was at this event that Raisi sent his condolences to Amini's family and promised her death would be investigated, per PBS - though, it is feared this could simply just end up with a show trial and serve no actual justice.
The palpable anger felt by women across the planet can be felt intensely across social media, with thousands of women choosing to cut their hair in protest - posting videos and images on TikTok and Instagram.
One woman posted a clip of her cutting up her hijab on TikTok, just two years after starting to wear the headscarf. "Today exactly two years ago I started wearing hijab, today I cut my hair for #mahsaamini," she captioned the clip.
"I cannot show the video of me cutting my hair out of religious reasons [...] so as a symbol of solidarity I made a video cutting my scarf as well in order to spread the message. I am wearing one of our traditional Persian scarfs around me to represent my people as an Iranian woman. I cannot go into detail for my own safety, so please do the research and spread our message," she bravely added.
Aside from drawing attention to injustices in Iran, many social media accounts have promoted various organizations that are working to help women and protect their safety in the wake of Amini's death.
One app, Gershad, is being promoted as a tool that can help citizens, journalists, activists and civil society groups to monitor the whereabouts of officials from the "morality police" so that they can steer clear of locations where officers are known to be active, avoiding the risk of confrontation.
Another app, Toranj, offers a similar protection for women in Iran, and is currently taking donations via their website here.
There is also a Change.org petition demanding justice for Mahsa Amini, which can be signed here.
When Amini made her last fateful journey to visit family on September 13, she could never have imagined that she would become a symbol of women's resistance.
This article was originally published on VT.co and was shared with permission.