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Why Iranian Women Are Cutting Their Hair and Burning Their Headscarves in Protest

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The killing of a young woman while being held by Iran’s morality police has sparked protests across the country – and around the world – with women burning headscarves and cutting off ponytails to protest government restrictions on social freedoms.

Women have been at the forefront of protests that erupted in dozens of cities across Iran for seven consecutive days. Pictures and videos circulating on social media showed women defying the country’s strict dress code that was said to have led to the arrest of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

NBC News reported that morality police approached Amini outside a subway station while she was on vacation in Tehran on September 13, and arrested her for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code.

Police said Amini fell ill, had a heart attack and fell into a coma, and was pronounced dead on September 16. Authorities have denied Amini’s mistreatment and said the investigation into her death is ongoing, but her family has denied that she had pre-existing health problems. .

In one of the videos of a protest in recent days, a woman is spinning as she throws her veil into the fire before others start throwing their veils into the flames. Another video shows a woman cutting her hair in front of a large crowd cheering her.

Iranian women demonstrating (Yasin Akgol/AFP via Getty Images)

Iranian women demonstrating (Yasin Akgol/AFP via Getty Images)

NBC News reported that many protesters chanted against the Iranian government and in favor of women’s rights, as well as public actions challenging the country’s dress code. Since 1979, women in Iran have been required to wear headscarves and loose clothing in public.

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In response to the protests, police fired live bullets and water cannons at protesters, beating them with batons. At least 26 people have been killed during the protests in the country, according to Iranian state TV.

TODAY could not independently verify the number of people killed in the protests.

Internet access has been restricted in several cities across Iran, according to reports by state media and the Kurdistan-based human rights organization Hengaw. Iran has also limited access to Instagram, one of the only remaining social media platforms in the country, according to NetBlocks, the internet shutdown watchdog.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death and expressed sympathy for Amini’s family in a phone call, according to his official website.

“Your daughter is like my daughter, and I feel this accident happened to one of my loved ones,” my boss said. “Please accept my condolences.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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