Turkish police detained 20 Iranian women in İstanbul for staging a demonstration in a prohibited area in protest of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police last week, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Tuesday.
Arrested by the morality police, who enforce strict rules in the Islamic Republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes in public, for allegedly wearing the hijab improperly, Amini suffered a heart attack, fell into a coma and died while in custody, state-affiliated media said.
Her family insists she had no previous health problems, and activists claim she may have been beaten by police.
The death of Amini, a Kurdish woman from western Iran, has sparked outrage over the government’s increasingly strict enforcement of an ultraconservative dress code for women, compulsory since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
Following the developments, Iranian women in Turkey held protests in İstanbul and İzmir, carrying placards bearing photos and the name of Amini and chanting the slogans “Freedom for women,” “No to compulsory hijab” and “We are Mahsa Amini” in Persian.
According to Mezopotamya, police officers detained 20 protestors in İstanbul for continuing to demonstrate even after they were threatened with revocation of residence permits.
Although freedom of assembly is safeguarded in Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution, people frequently face bans, police intervention and detention when they want to stage a protest.
The protests in İzmir also saw the participation of MP Musa Piroğlu from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), several other provincial directors and women’s organization members of the party, Mezopotamya said.
“They just want us to be Muslims and do what they want. It is obligatory to wear hijab from the age of seven. You can’t even go to school if you don’t wear a hijab. … In Iran, women do not have the right to freely marry or go abroad. Morality police are everywhere. … Everyone should be able to practice their own religion. No one can force religion on anyone,” the protestors said in a statement.