Editorial: Iran should end crackdown on protests over woman’s death after hijab arrest
Protests against the Iranian government and authorities have been going on for more than a month and the civilian casualties of the repression are mounting. Removal by force will not lead to a solution.
The protests were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman following her detention by Iranian morality police. She was taken into custody for incorrectly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, which Muslim women wear to cover their hair.
The woman’s family said the woman’s skull was cracked, prompting widespread suspicion in the public that she had been tortured. Police denied assaulting her and said she died of a heart attack.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has instructed Iran’s Interior Ministry to investigate, but disbelief at the sudden death of a healthy young woman has not been dispelled.
Protests by women and young people have spread to more than 80 cities, with women burning their hijabs and chanting “death to the dictator”. The remarks are believed to be aimed at Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an abnormal situation in Iran.
Investigations by an international human rights group found that more than 200 people, including children, were killed in the crackdown. The use of force against innocent civilians is a violation of human rights.
In Iran, where Islam is the state religion, women have been required to cover their heads in public since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Believers of other religions are not exempt from the rule.
How much hair to hide depends on the will of the administration at the time. The current Conservative administration is taking a tough approach.
More than 40 years have passed since the revolution and many citizens are unaware of the fervor of that time. Young people’s reaction to the Conservative administration’s excessive intervention in their lives has intensified.
On top of that, people’s lives have been hard amid long-standing economic sanctions imposed by Western countries and other regions. Meanwhile, only conservatives have run for president and people feel their voice is not being heard in politics. The government must listen to such discontent.
Protests against the Iranian government have even taken place in Japan as well as in Europe and North America. Women cut their hair to express their solidarity with their compatriots in Iran.
The United States, Canada and the European Union criticized Iran’s response as a violation of human rights and imposed sanctions, including freezing the assets of senior security officials.
Human rights are universal values and must be respected regardless of the political administration. The Iranian authorities must immediately cease their repression.