The Daily Telegraph

Woman, 22, dies after morality police beating in Iran

- By James Rothwell Middle east correspond­ent

A YOUNG Iranian woman has died after being beaten by “morality police” for not wearing a headscarf, according to witnesses.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was taken inside a police van and allegedly attacked by Iran’s guardian patrols. She fell into a coma shortly afterwards. Iranian media reported last night that she died from her injuries.

Wearing a headscarf is compulsory in the Islamic Republic, and those caught without one risk being imprisoned for up to two months and fined.

Iranian police deny beating the woman and have instead claimed that she fell ill from a “heart problem”, which the family denies, pointing out that she had no pre-existing medical conditions.

Footage has surfaced online appearing to show the morality police dragging the woman to the ground and taking her away, as well as an audio clip that records the moment that an alleged female relative screamed and wailed in hospital after being informed of the woman’s death.

Iranians have been tweeting with the hashtag “Murder Patrol” in response. Others pointed out that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, once gave a speech, which has resurfaced and been widely shared, in which he says women who dress immodestly should be punished.

Ms Amini’s brother, Kiaresh, told the Iran Wire that he went to collect her from the police station, but instead she was put into an ambulance. He said: “There were only two hours between her arrest and being taken to hospital. I have nothing to lose. I will not let this end without making a noise.”

Tehran police said in a statement that Ms Amini was merely taken to the police station for “explanatio­n and instructio­n”.

“She suddenly suffered a heart problem while in the company of other guided people… she was immediatel­y taken to the hospital with the cooperatio­n of police and emergency services,” they said.

The incident is likely to exacerbate already fragile relations between the people of Iran and its ruling elite, amid crippling western sanctions and sporadic mass protests against the regime.

Last night, protests were held outside the hospital where Ms Amini had been taken. Nazanin Boniadi, a British-iranian actress and activist, said: “How many innocent young lives must be brutally robbed before we all rise?”

The hijab has been compulsory for women since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Some have tried to protest against the rule by removing their veils in public. Activists say there has been an intensifie­d crackdown on people not wearing the hijab in recent weeks as part of a wider assault on Iranian civil society, including mass arrests over the summer of members of the Baha’i faith, with Iranian forces bulldozing their homes.

Iran is trying to lift the sanctions in talks with Western leaders on reviving the Obama-era nuclear deal, in return for curbing its nuclear programme.

However, after more than 18 months of stalled talks, both sides seem pessimisti­c about the prospect of a deal.

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