In the video, a large crowd cheers as a woman raises a pair of scissors to cut into her hair – exposed with no headscarf in sight. The sea of people, many of them men, growled as she cut off her ponytail and raised her fist in the air.
It was a powerful act of defiance on Tuesday night in the Iranian city of Kerman, where women were required to wear hijabs (or headscarves) in public, as outrage over a woman’s death in police custody sparked protests across the country protest activity.
Iranian authorities said on Wednesday that three people, including a member of the security forces, had been killed in the unrest, which had continued into its fifth day.
Human rights groups reported that at least seven people were killed.
Last week, the arrest of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran by the ethics police – a specialized unit that enforces strict dress codes for women, such as the mandatory hijab – sparked outrage over the severity of the sanctions Economic impact.
The protests are notable for their size, ferocity and rare feminist nature. The last demonstration of this size was three years ago, when the government raised gas prices in 2019.
Demonstrations swept through much of the country after starting Saturday at Amini’s funeral in Iran’s Kurdistan province, leading to clashes with security forces trying to quell them.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made no mention of the protests when he addressed veterans and military commanders on Wednesday to commemorate the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
Prosecutors in the western city of Kermanshah said two people were killed in “riots” on Tuesday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. A police “assistant” was killed and four others were injured during protests in Shiraz, the capital of southwestern Iran’s Fars province, the official state news agency IRNA said.
A 23-year-old Urmiya and a 16-year-old Piran Shahar were shot dead during protests on Tuesday, according to two Kurdish human rights groups that monitor violations in Iran The total number of demonstrators killed reached 7 – Kurdistan Human Rights Network and Hengaw, an organisation registered in Norway.
Iranian authorities have not confirmed the death toll.
Thousands took to the streets on Tuesday night and videos of protests appeared in dozens of towns – from the capital Tehran to more traditional conservative strongholds such as Mashad.
The video showed some protesters chanting “women, life, freedom”. Others can also be seen setting bonfires, wrestling with police, or removing and burning their headscarves – as well as vandalizing posters of the country’s top leader and chanting “death to the dictator”.
In a video from Tehran, young protesters marched around bonfires in the streets at night, chanting: “We are children of war. Come on, fight, we will fight back.”
Demonstrations also took place in almost all provincial towns in Iran’s Kurdish region, including Kermanshah and Hamadan.
Witnesses told CNN that Tuesday night’s demonstrations appeared to be “lightning protests” — meaning groups formed and dispersed quickly to avoid clashes with Iranian security forces after violence escalated last week.
There was at least one incident of a tough police response on Tuesday near Iran’s Enkhlab (“Revolution”) Square on the west side of Tehran University, which has traditionally been a rallying point for protests, a source said.
“Two young men were beaten and beaten by plainclothes and riot police and then dragged into a van in front of the subway entrance,” a witness told CNN. “An injured girl lying on the sidewalk was taken to hospital by ambulance and five others were arrested on the north side of Enkhlab Square.”
Hengaw said 450 people were injured during the protests.
Amini was stopped and detained by Iranian ethics police last Tuesday. Iranian officials said she died of a “heart attack” on Friday and fell into a coma after her arrest.
However, her family said she had no previous heart attack, according to Iran’s pro-reform outlet Emtedad news, which claimed to have spoken to Amini’s father.
Redacted security camera footage released by Iranian state media appeared to show Amini collapsing at a “re-education” center, where she was taken to receive “instructions” about her attire.
Iran’s ethics police, part of the country’s law enforcement arm, are tasked with enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict social rules, including a dress code that requires women to wear a headscarf or hijab in public.
An aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei met with her family at Amini’s home on Monday, promising a “thorough investigation” into her death, according to Iran’s semi-official Noor news agency.
According to Noor, Khamenei’s representative in Iran’s Kurdish province, Abdulreza Purzahabi, said the supreme leader was “sad” and that the family’s grief was “his grief as well.”
He added that he hoped the family would show “goodwill to help restore calm to society”.
Also at a news conference on Monday, Greater Tehran police commander Hussein Rahimi denied “false accusations” against Iranian police, saying they “did everything” to keep Amini alive.
He added that Amini was not physically harmed during or after her detention, and called her death “unfortunate.”
After Amini’s death, internet monitoring site Netblocks recorded internet outages since Friday — a tactic Iran has previously used to prevent the spread of protests.
On Monday, the regulator said, “Real-time network data shows an almost complete outage of internet connectivity in the capital of Kurdistan province, Sanandaj.”
According to the country’s semi-official ISNA news agency, Iran’s Communications Minister Issa Zarepour said security forces may have disrupted internet services for “security purposes and discussions related to recent events.”