As Protests Over Mahsa Amini's Death Reach London, Here's What You Need To Know

Demonstrators shouted: "Death to the Islamic Republic."
A protest outside the Iranian embassy in London on September 24.
A protest outside the Iranian embassy in London on September 24.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

The death of a young woman in Iran has sparked global backlash, with hundreds joining protests in London on Sunday.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in police custody in Iran after being detained for supposedly breaking laws around wearing hijabs.

This has triggered widespread calls for immediate reform in the country, as fears over the politicisation of women’s bodies continue to climb.

The incident has subsequently had a profound impact around the world. Here’s what you need to know.

What happened to Amini?

Amini was detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the law requiring women to cover their hair with the hijab, and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

According to some reports, officers then beat Amini with a baton over the head, and banged her head against one of their vehicles. She died on September 16.

Iran’s police have denied any mistreatment towards Amini, and claimed she suffered “sudden heart failure”, although her family say she was fit and healthy before being taken into custody.

What’s happening in Iran now?

Protests in Iran have seen at least 41 people killed, according to Iranian officials, with the death toll continuing to climb after 10 nights of demonstrations.

However, internet blackouts mean it has difficult for anyone to discern exactly how many people have died, especially as many social media platforms have been blocked.

Iran president Ebrahim Raisi has promised to “deal decisively” with the protests, even though they are now happening in most of the country’s 35 provinces. Similarly, the country’s judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on Sunday that there is a “need for decisive action without leniency”.

Hundreds have been arrested during the mostly night-time protests which have seen security forces fire upon crowds while demonstrators set fire to state buildings.

The demonstrations, usually led by women, have included calls of “woman, life, freedom” – and it does not look like the protests are going to go away anytime soon.

Iran’s response to the demonstrations has also caused pushback from the international community, with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell declaring that “disproportionate use of force against nonviolent protesters is unjustifiable and unacceptable”.

Iran has also summoned the UK and Norwegian ambassadors after supposed interference and hostile media coverage of the protests.

The US’ national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US has taken “tangible steps” to sanction Iran’s morality police, too.

What’s happening elsewhere?

Amini’s death has caused demonstrations all over the world, including Canada, Chile and Iraq, with some women removing their hijabs and shaving their heads in solidarity with the Iranian protesters.

The campaign has spread to the West too, with demonstrations in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York and Paris.

Over the last few days, the frustration over the way Amini – and women in general – are treated reached the UK as well.

Hundreds of campaigners chanted “death to the Islamic Republic” and waved the former national flag for Iran, which was used up until 1979.

Crowds have been gathering in Kensington, Marble Arch and in Maida Vale. The Metropolitan Police have revealed that most have been “largely good natured”, but one escalated into violence on Sunday.

Various clips show officers grappling with demonstrators, with one person being pressed into the ground after they broke through police lines.

Met Officers wearing protective helmets and shields gathered to monitor the crowds, forming lines to protect the Iranian embassy.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the “completely unacceptable” disorder the following day, tweeting: “The selfish minority who attempted to hijack a peaceful protest must be brought to justice.

“The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but violence and attacks on our police and communities will never be tolerated. I am in close contact with the Met Commissioner and the police have my full support in pursuing those behind the disorder.”

Met Police commander Karen Findlay also promised to crack down on violent protesters.

She said: “We respect the right of people to protest peacefully and always work with organisers to make that possible, but we will not tolerate unprovoked attacks on our officers as we have seen today or protest that leaves other communities feeling unsafe.”

She warned that the police were aware there were people who “committed serious offences” on Sunday but who evaded arrest. The police are looking at CCTV and other footage to bring these people to justice.

At least five police officers were seriously injured and are in hospital with broken bones, according to the Met, while 12 people were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder offences.

Riot police tried to move protesters off the road next Marble Arch too, as seen in this footage shared by vlogger Paul Brown, as demonstrators moved from the Iranian embassy, heading towards Maida Vale where the Islamic Centre of England is.

According to the Metropolitan Police, items such as bottles were thrown as protesters clashed with police, and said: “A significant policing presence will remain in and around the area to monitor the situation.”


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