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Iran: Lawmaker labels female protesters as prostitutes

September 27, 2022

The accusation comes as attitudes harden in the Islamic Republic against protests over the death of Mahsa Amini. Despite the rhetoric, demonstrators again demanded action.

People in New York waving placards and protesting against the Islamic regime of Iran and the death of Mahsa Amini
Solidarity protests, like this one on in New York, have been staged around the worldImage: Stephanie Keith/REUTERS

An Iranian lawmaker on Tuesday labeled women who have taken off mandatory headscarves to protest against the death of Mahsa Amini as "rioters" who are "out to prostitute themselves."

Mahmoud Nabavian, a legislator from Tehran, made the comments as hardline attitudesgrow against ongoing protests following Amini's death, which occurred while in police custody.

Nabavian suggested that taking off the hijab, or headscarf, was akin to being naked in public.

In similar statements Iranian state media branded the protesters "hypocrites, rioters, thugs and seditionists"

Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died on September 16 after the so-called morality police detained her in Theran for allegedly breaking strict hijab rules.

Protests, led mainly by women, have spread across Iran since her death and some female protesters have removed and burned their hijabs in the rallies while some have also cut off their hair.

Demonstrations throughout Iran

There were no signs of the protests easing up as Iranian riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in dozens of cities on Tuesday.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported that "around 60" people had been killed since Amini's death, but Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights puts the number of people killed in the crackdown much higher.

Iranian officials said Monday they had made more than 1,200 arrests. Those taken into custody have included activists, lawyers and journalists, as well as protesters.

"Despite the fact that the authorities have been shooting at the protesters... the protests continue. We don't see a sign that people are going to stay home," Mahmoud Amiri-Moghadam, director of Iran Human Rights told DW.

"They [Iranian masses] don't want anything else than living a normal life. I've never seen so many angry people, you know, they clearly express that enough is enough," he said.

A powerful Shiite cleric long aligned with the country's ultra-conservative establishment has urged authorities to take a softer line.

"The leaders must listen to the demands of the people, resolve their problems and show sensitivity to their rights," Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani said.

Condemnation from around the world

Solidarity protests have also erupted in Europe, the United States, and in parts of the Middle East.

In Austria, around 100 people protested in front of a stadium ahead of an international match between Iran and Senegal. The match took place behind closed doors.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on Iran's clerical rulers to "fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association."

Last week the US imposed sanctions against the Iranian morality police.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has also called for new sanctions on Iran.

"We will now have to talk very quickly in EU circles about further consequences, and for me this also includes sanctions against those responsible," the minister said on Monday.

Tehran has accused the US and some European countries of using the unrest to try to destabilize Iran.

lo/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa Reuters)