Mahsa Aimini: Death of Iranian Woman Sparks Sympathy and Outrage

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Following the death of Mahsa Aimini, young people are learning about Iran’s turbulent history

On the 16th of September, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Aimini, died after falling into a coma at a detention centre where she was held for not wearing a hijab. The authorities detaining Mahsa said she died of a heart attack, but many are sceptical as Mahsa’s family says she had a healthy heart. In just days, the tragic death of Mahsa is snowballing into a revolution and women from throughout Iran and the world are uniting in grief and solidarity against oppression and misogyny. 

Death of Mahsa Aimini sparks protests
Protests in Iran (The National)

If you’re on Tik Tok, then you’ve probably stumbled upon Tom Odell’s track, Another Love, which has surprisingly become the soundtrack to Iran’s recent wave of ‘morality protests’. The song has been sampled for its lyrics, “And if somebody hurts you, I wanna fight. But my hand’s been broken one too many times. So I’ll use my voice, I’ll be so fucking rude. Words they always win, but I know I’ll lose.” The song is now a protest song. It has helped young people around the world digest the heartbreaking news and has inspired young people to use their voice and platform online to offer support and share their disgust. 

Sadly, this is a case all too common in Iran. In the 1960s, Iranian women enjoyed considerable ‘western’ style freedoms. If you walked down the street in the hip Persian capital, Tehran, you could see women wearing colourful skirts, with their hair free. However, since the revolution in 1979, Iran has become increasingly conservative and religious, and slowly, the ‘morality police’ have enforced strict rules on women who are now forced to cover up and wear hijabs. The death of Mahsa Aimini has unleashed decades of pent-up frustrations with Iran’s regime, and women are using this as an opportunity for freedom. 

In the past few days, Mahsa’s father, Amjad Amini spoke out about the horrific death of his daughter, adding more fuel to the fire. In a conversation with BBC Persia, Amjad revealed that he was denied access to the autopsy report. What’s more is that Mahsa’s brother – who was there when she was being detained – said that he witnessed his sister getting beaten in the van and in the police station, which has led many to believe that Mahsa Aimini died from her injuries at the hands of the vicious ‘morality police’. “My son begged them not to take her, but he was beaten too, his clothes were ripped off,” said the father. “I asked them to show me the body cameras of the security officers, they told me the cameras were out of battery.”

Death of Mahsa Aimini sparks protests
Iran before the revolution

Iran has been closed off to the world for some time. US-imposed sanctions have ravaged the country’s economy and have exacerbated a sense of frustration with an already despised government. The death of Mahsa, and its traffic on social media, have helped unite Iran and the world in frustration and grief. Iran has always straddled conservatism and modernity. Can social media and the new generation push it towards the latter?