The eruption of nationwide protests in Iran following the death in police custody of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman detained for allegedly failing to adhere to hijab (headscarf) rules is the most serious challenge Iran’s leadership has faced in years.
While authorities say Mahsa Amini died from underlying health reasons, her family and countless other Iranians believe she died as a result of having been beaten.
Protesters say that if they don’t act now, they could fall victim to the same fate.
It has come at a time when Iranians are feeling particularly fed up. Systematic corruption among Iran’s political elite, growing poverty with inflation at more than 50%, deadlock in nuclear talks and lack of social and political freedom have left Iran’s young and vibrant population feeling hopeless.
According to Iran’s Social Security Organization Research Institute at least 25 million Iranians were living below the poverty line by June 2021. That number is even higher now.
These are not the first protests in the history of the Islamic republic of Iran. But many observers believe there is something different about them.
More than anything, this is a woman’s protest.