Protests erupt in Iran after Mahsa Amini dies in morality police custody - NBC News

Police said Amini died Friday after falling ill and slipping into a coma days earlier as she waited with other women held by the morality police, who enforce the Islamic republic's strict rules requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes in public.

Authorities acknowledged making arrests at subsequent protests but denied mistreating Amini and said they were investigating her death.

Rights activists have expressed concerns about Amini's death and the official response to the demonstrations. Her family has denied that she had prior health issues, according to Reuters.

"Mahsa Amini's tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth," said acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif.

She also called on Iranian authorities to "stop targeting, harassing and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called on Iranian authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations.

"Mahsa Amini should be alive today. Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protest," he said on Twitter.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian rejected the criticism, accusing the U.S. of "shedding crocodile tears."

Amini's death and the ongoing protests have prompted an outpouring of social media posts protesting Iran's hijab laws, with many women posting online images of themselves without the veil.

Women's rights groups have been campaigning against the country's strict laws in recent months, encouraging women to not wear the mandated veil in public in protest.

Protesters in Tehran appeared to burn hijabs at protests after Amini's death.

Video circulating on social media and verified by NBC News appeared to show a woman climbing onto the hood of a car, with people heard chanting "women, life, freedom" before cheering as she holds up what appears to be a hijab on fire.

Other videos verified by NBC News appear to show protesters at Valiasr Square in Tehran on Monday. One video shows protesters on the street, while the other shows police attempting to disperse protestors with what appears to be water.

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