In the video, a massive crowd cheers as a woman lifts a pair of scissors to her hair — exposed, without a hijab in sight. The sea of people, many of them men, roar as she chops off her ponytail and raises her fist in the air.
It was a powerful act of defiance Tuesday night in the Iranian city of Kerman, where women are required to wear hijabs (or headscarves) in public, as outrage over the death of a woman in police custody fuels protests across the country.
Iranian authorities said Wednesday that three people, including a member of the security forces, have been killed in the unrest, which has stretched into a fifth day.
Human rights groups have reported that at least seven people have been killed.
The death last week of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran by morality police — a dedicated unit that enforces strict dress codes for women, such as wearing the compulsory headscarf — has sparked an outpouring anger over issues ranging from freedoms in the Islamic Republic to the crippling economic impacts of sanctions.
The protests are striking for their scale, ferocity and rare feminist nature; the last demonstrations of this size were three years ago, after the government hiked gas prices in 2019.After starting Saturday at Amini’s funeral in Iran’s Kurdistan province, the demonstrations have swept much of the country, leading to clashes with security forces trying to quell them.Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made no mention of the protests during a speech on Wednesday to veterans and military commanders commemorating the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.The prosecutor in the western city of Kermanshah said two people were killed during “riots” on Tuesday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The official IRNA state news agency said a police “assistant” was killed and four others injured during protests in Shiraz, the capital city of Fars province in southwestern Iran.A 23-year-old in Urmia and a 16-year-old in Piranshahar were shot dead during protests on Tuesday, bringing the total number of demonstrators killed to seven, according to two Kurdish human rights groups monitoring violations in Iran — Kurdistan Human Rights Network and Hengaw, a Norwegian-registered organization.
Iranian authorities did not confirm the deaths.
Thousands took to the streets Tuesday night, with videos of protests emerging from dozens of towns and cities — ranging from the capital Tehran to more traditionally conservative strongholds like Mashad.
Footage shows some protesters chanting, “Women, life, freedom.” Others can be seen setting up bonfires, scuffling with police, or removing and burning their headscarves — as well as destroying posters of the country’s Supreme Leader and shouting, “Death to the dictator.”
In one video in Tehran, young protesters march around a bonfire on the street at night, chanting: “We are the children of war. Come on and fight, and we’ll fight back.”