Masih Alinejad, a US-based Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist, said protests erupting in dozens of cities following the death of young Iranian girl Mahsa Amini in police custody are a “point of tipping point” for Iran.
“For the Islamic Republic, the murder of Mahsa Amini becomes a turning point because the compulsory hijab is not just a piece of cloth,” Alinejad told Reuters on Tuesday in New York. “It’s like the Berlin Wall. And if Iranian women manage to tear down this wall, the Islamic Republic will not exist.”
Amini, 22, from the Kurdish town of Saqez in the northwest of the country, was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “inappropriate dress” by the morality police who enforce the country’s strict dress code. She died three days later in hospital after slipping into a coma, sparking the first major opposition show on Iranian streets since authorities crushed protests over rising gasoline prices in 2019.
Police said she fell ill while waiting with other female detainees.
“This movement is the result of 40 years of women fighting, pushing the boundaries,” Alinejad said. “I have goosebumps because when I started the campaign against compulsory hijab, I never thought it would happen in my lifetime.”
Alinejad launched a social media campaign in 2014 to encourage Iranian women to share veilless self-portraits, which she then shares on her Facebook page, “My Stealthy Freedom”.
Amini’s death drew widespread international condemnation while Iran blamed “thugs” linked to “foreign enemies” for the unrest. Tehran has accused the United States and some European countries of using the unrest to try to destabilize the country.