Thousands take to DC’s streets to protest Mahsa Amini’s death in Iran

Protests in solidarity with the Iranian woman who died while in custody for violating the country’s strictly enforced Islamic dress code broke out in downtown D.C. Saturday night.

Some of the protesters were heard chanting “death to Khamenei,” in reference to Iran’s supreme leader, WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported in a tweet.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been picked up for her allegedly loose headscarf, or hijab, has triggered daring displays of defiance in Iran, in the face of beatings and possible arrest.

Many Iranians, particularly young people, have come to see Amini’s death as part of the Islamic Republic’s heavy-handed policing of dissent and the morality police’s increasingly violent treatment of young women.

The U.S. government on Thursday imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police and leaders of other government agencies after the death of a woman who had been detained over an accusation she violated the country’s dress code by wearing her Islamic headgear too loosely, The Associated Press reported.

The sanctions come after at least nine protesters have been killed in clashes with Iranian security forces since violence erupted over the weekend because of Amini’s death.

The morality police detained Amini last week, and said she didn’t properly cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, which is mandatory for Iranian women. Amini collapsed at a police station and died three days later.

Police said that she died of a heart attack and deny that she was mistreated. The government released video footage purporting to show the moment she collapsed. Her family said she had no history of heart trouble.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. is calling on the Iranian government “to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”

“Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Yellen said on Thursday.

An anchor on Iran’s state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could be as high as 17, but he did not say how he reached that figure.

Iran has faced global condemnation over Amini’s death and the U.N. human rights office is calling for an investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Hugh Garbrick

Hugh graduated from the University of Maryland’s journalism college in 2020. While studying, he interned at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, a local paper in Seattle, and reported for the school’s Capital News Service. Hugh is a lifelong MoCo resident, and has listened to the local radio quite a bit.

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