Students react to death of Mahsa Amini


Ea Perkins

It is mentioned in the Quran that religion must not be forced upon another person. “As a Muslim wearing the hijab, for myself and many others, the hijab is a choice, but what is happening in Iran is not a choice, and therefore wrong,” Bareen Abdulrahman, ‘26 said.

 On Sept. 13, Zhina Mahsa Amini was pulled over by the morality police in Tehran, Iran. Amini was allegedly wearing her hijab improperly while driving. She was then arrested and, while in custody, her family accused the morality police of torturing her. 

Amini eventually lost consciousness and died on Sept. 16 in the hospital. The police claim that she died due to a heart attack, but Iran International says that Amini suffered head trauma before her death.

Amini was a young Kurdish woman living in Iran. She was originally from the Kurdistan province, Saqqez. Kurdish people are the largest minority in Iran and are the victims of mistreatment by the Iranian government. 

The Iranian government discriminates against Iranian Kurds with gaining access to university studies, employment, business licenses and economic aid, getting permission to publish books and exercising their civil and political rights,” Christine Caldera, a Research and Advocacy Officer at Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said. “Other reports confirm violations of international law, including torture, due process violations, indiscriminate killings, [and] intimidation against human rights defenders and executions. Kurdish political prisoners represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in Iran.”

The Iranian morality police is a division of Iran’s LEF, Law Enforcement Forces, that enforces their beliefs regarding modest wear for women. “Their focus is on ensuring observance of hijab – mandatory rules requiring women to cover their hair and bodies and discouraging cosmetics,” the BBC reported. 

Women in Iran are burning their hijabs and cutting their hair on the streets to protest Amini’s death. However, she is not the first to suffer at the hands of gender-based discrimination and the morality police. 400 to 500 women and girls are killed in honor killings by family members every year according to the MEI (Middle East Institute). There are little to no legal repercussions for the murderers. 

Recently, the Iranian government has cut off the internet to the public in response to these protests. Tien Dao, ‘25, parents are from Vietnam. They experienced being cut off from the rest of the world during the Vietnam War.

“They had a lot of letters that were smuggled by boats,” Dao said. He believes that with modern technology, countries could work together to create what he calls “a whole underground internet section,” connecting Iranian protesters with the world. 

Arshya Maricar, ‘26, is a student at WHHS who wears the hijab. She does not believe that these protests will succeed in dismantling the mortality police. 

“I don’t think [The Middle East is] really open to what their people have to say and the outside world because I personally feel like they might think, ‘Oh its westernization,’ or, ‘The West has a big influence and we don’t want our people to be brainwashed by that,’” Maricar said.

Due to recent events in the Middle East, such as the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan and forcing hijabs upon women along with other religious rules, Marwa Khzir, ‘25, a Kurdish student, does not find it likely that these protests will succeed in dismantling the mortality police either. 

She believes there is already too strong of a precedent involving the morality police not only in Iran, which would make it very difficult to dismantle quickly. 

Regardless, these protests will greatly influence others around the world. Khzir predicts that this foreign influence will eventually lead to reform and even reconstruction of the current regime.

“I think the way they’re doing it right now is very nice and very good,” Khzir said. “They’re speaking out to not just their country, but countries around the world, asking for help.”