People take to the streets, women throw away their headscarves and symbolically cut their hair. According to official figures, at least 17 people have died in protests and unrest in dozens of Iranian cities. Both security forces and demonstrators were among the victims, state television reported on Thursday. Further details were not given.

The protests were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini. She was arrested by the Morality Police just over a week ago for violating the strict Islamic dress code. What exactly happened to Amini after her arrest is unclear. Anyway, she went into a coma and died in a hospital on Friday. Critics accuse the morality police of using violence. The police deny the allegations. Since then, thousands of people have been demonstrating across the country against the government’s repressive course. Iran President Ebrahim Raisi spoke of “acts of chaos”.

Iran’s judiciary chief Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Edschehi ordered the police and judiciary to crack down on the nationwide protests. Accordingly, there should be no compromises in dealing with “professional rioters” and leaders of the unrest, the state news agency IRNA reported on Thursday evening. According to the head of justice, the security of the citizens should be guaranteed.

In numerous cities, demonstrators fought again on Thursday night with security forces, who, according to eyewitnesses, acted harshly after massive restrictions on the Internet. Shots with live ammunition are reported on videos that could not be verified.

Prominent Iranians in exile have since shown their solidarity with the protest movement. In Iran, too, voices were raised that opposed the government’s course in an unusually sharp manner. Soccer star Ali Karimi, for example, sided with the demonstrators. The ex-professional received encouragement from many Iranians. “Don’t be afraid of strong women. Maybe the day will come when they will be your only army,” wrote the ex-pro, who also played in the Bundesliga in the past, on Twitter.

The Internet is massively restricted and mobile networks in particular are largely switched off. Instagram, one of the last free social networks, was also blocked. Some high-reach Iranian news portals that had reported on the protests could no longer be reached abroad. The demonstrations were rarely discussed on the websites of the state media. The government, for its part, called for counter-demonstrations after Friday prayers.

The US government imposed sanctions on morality police and senior security officials. According to the Ministry of Finance, high-ranking executives from various security organizations in the country are also affected – such as the head of the moral police. As a result of the sanctions, any possessions of those affected in the USA will be frozen, and US citizens will be prohibited from doing business with them. Germany wants to bring the Amini case before the UN Human Rights Council. This was announced by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in New York. If women are not safe, then no society in this world is safe, said the Green politician.

Christiane Amanpour, longtime correspondent for the US broadcaster CNN, reported that she had planned an interview with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. However, Raisi did not appear at the agreed time. Instead, one of Raisi’s associates came 40 minutes later and said the President was suggesting that she (Amanpour) wear a headscarf. She refused, Amanpour tweeted. No Iranian president has previously required wearing a headscarf when interviewed outside of Iran. Raisis’ employee explained that the headscarf was a question of respect and referred to the situation in Iran.

Iran has had strict dress codes since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In the big cities in particular, many women now see the rules as rather relaxed and, for example, only wear their headscarves on the back of their heads – to the annoyance of ultra-conservative politicians. Religious hardliners in parliament have been trying for months to have Islamic laws applied more strictly.

Green leader Omid Nouripour, who was born in Iran in 1975 and came to Germany when he was thirteen, spoke to the editorial network Germany about the current protests and the dress code for women. “There has been a long list of atrocities for over 40 years. The death of Ms. Amini shows this horror once again. People no longer want to be patronized and endure a system that is exclusively geared towards patronizing.”

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