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Iran: Death toll rises in unrest over Mahsa Amini's death

September 21, 2022

Iran's leadership has come under pressure since the 22-year-old woman died in police custody. President Ebrahim Raisi, meanwhile, has decried the West's "double standards" on women's rights.

A woman seen holding her hair as she shouts slogans next to an Iranian flag during a protest in Turkey
Protests have erupted across Iran in recent days after Amini's deathImage: Francisco Seco/ASSOCIATED PRESS/picture alliance

Thousands of demonstrators on Wednesday marched through the streets of Iran amid unrest over the death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old woman died in police custody after she was arrested for allegedly wearing a headscarf in an "improper" way under the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women. 

Officials said on Wednesday that two people, including a police officer, died overnight as security forces tried to disperse protesters. The figure brings the death toll to six. 

Meanwhile in Istanbul, a woman cut her hair during a protest outside the Iranian consulate in solidarity with Amini.

Dozens of Iranian and Turkish women outside the consulate carried portraits of Amini and banners in support of women's rights. 

Iran: Protests after woman dies in custody

Internet disruptions 

Access to Instagram in Iran was disrupted on Wednesday, according to the London-based monitoring group NetBlocks. 

The platform has already been one of the few Western social media sites available in Iran as Tehran blocks Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube. 

Separately, Iranian government websites came under what appeared to be a cyberattack. 

Hackers have claimed responsibility for the apparent attack. 

In recent years, dissident hackers have targeted the Iranian government with cyberattacks. Tehran has blamed many of those attacks on Israel. 

Raisi condemns West's 'double standards' 

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi accused the West of "double standards" after several Western countries raised concerns over women's rights in Iran.

The hardline cleric pointed to the deaths of Indigenous women in Canada, the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group's "savagery" against women from religious minority groups and actions by Israeli security forces in Palestinian territories. 

"So long as we have this double standard, where attention is solely focused on one side and not all equally, we will not have true justice and fairness," Raisi said. 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Raisi was addressing world leaders at the 77th session of the United Nations General AssemblyImage: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the country has had a strict dress code for women, requiring them to cover their hair and almost all their skin, except their faces.

While many women have seen these rules as more relaxed in big cities, ultra-conservative lawmakers have pushed for months to have these laws applied more strictly. 

US, UK back protests

US President Joe Biden told the UN General Assembly that Washington stands "with the brave women of Iran" protesting the death of Amini. 

"Today we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights," Biden said.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told the AFP news agency that the protests show that "a different path is possible" for Iran. 

"They could abandon their nuclear weapons aspirations. They could stop the repression of voices within their own country. They could stop their destabilizing activities," he said.

"That is the path that we want Iran to take and that is the path that will see them with a stronger economy, a more happy society and a more active part in the international community."

fb/wd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)