Unless you have been living under a rock, you have by now probably heard about a young Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini, living in Iran who was arrested on 13 September and sent to a “re-education” center by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab properly. She died of a coma at age 22 on 27 September as the result of a severe beating by police. The news about this violation of Iran’s strict dress code was scooped by journalist Niloufar Hamedi working for an Iranian newspaper called Shargh. Hamedi herself has since been arrested and held in solitary confinement. Similarly, more than 18 other Iranian journalists have also been arrested for covering the protests.
The breaking of this story was followed by protests in the streets, and most notably young women burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in protest of Amini’s arrest. Internet and social media had been disrupted in Iran to prevent news of the protest from spreading. It is noteworthy that this is a protest sparked and led by young women, and it is mostly women taking to the streets.
Since then, BoingBoing reported on October 8 that an Itialian artist named aleXandro Polombo created an wall painting just outside of the Iranian Consulate in Milan which shows Marge Simpson, a cartoon character of The Simpsons, cutting her hair in protest. The mural has since been removed by Iranian authorities.
The Simpsons has been banned in Iranian television since 2012. According to the clerics, “[the cartoons] corrode the morale of Iranian Youth.”
Then there was the hacking yesterday of Iranian State TV. The usual mundane exchange between old clerics was interrupted with a masked face, followed by an image of cleric Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in flames with a target on his head. The sound was the chant heard earlier in the streets: “Women, life, freedom!”. On the bottom of the frame were pictures of four women killed or held in solitary confinement by Iranian authorities in connection with Ahmini’s death. After a few seconds, the video was abruptly cut short, followed by a host who looked helplessly at the camera, not quite knowing what to say.
The violently suppressed protests have left 154 dead. The number is likely to be low due to the suppression of social media, print media, radio and TV in the country.