TEHRAN – Iranian police labeled Mahsa Amini’s death a “unfortunate episode” that they do not want to repeat, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died after falling into a coma after being arrested by morality police in Tehran last week, igniting protests around the country by Iranians outraged by the treatment of women by the country’s security services.
“The Iranian police have been accused of being cowardly. We will wait till the day of judgment, but we will not cease providing security,” said Greater Tehran Police Commander Hossein Rahimi.
Protests continued on Sunday, and #MahsaAmini became one of the most popular hashtags on Persian-language Twitter as Iranians mourned her death.
Amini, 22, died on Friday after falling into a coma after being arrested earlier this week in Tehran by morality police enforcing strict hijab laws.
The killing of Amini has renewed calls for the government to limit its measures against women suspected of breaking the dress code.
On Sunday, the day after her funeral in Kurdistan, practically all Iranian newspapers dedicated their front pages to her story.
The first page of the ultra-conservative journal Javan read, “The nation has voiced its sorrow over Mahsa’s sad passing.”
Amini, who is originally from the northwestern Kurdistan area, was detained on Tuesday while visiting Tehran with her family.
According to online recordings, hundreds Iranian demonstrators gathered on Sunday around Tehran University, yelling “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
On Twitter, the hashtag #MahsaAmini has received 1.63 million mentions.
On Saturday, there were also protests across Kurdistan, notably at her funeral in Saqez.
Police repressed the Saqez demonstrations, with videos showing at least one guy with a head injury being circulated online.
Residents in Saqez threw stones at the governor’s office and screamed anti-government chants.
A few people were injured at the funeral, according to Saqez MP Behzad Rahimi.
“One of them was admitted to Saqez Hospital after being wounded in the guts by ballbearings,” he explained.
According to the Kurdish rights group Hengaw, 33 persons were injured in Saqez.
As Iran mourns the woman’s death, the front page of the financial journal Asia announced on Sunday, “Dear Mahsa, your name will become a symbol.”
The police squad in charge of implementing Iran’s female dress code had already come under fire in recent months for its excessive use of force.
“The masses are startled and appalled by what happened to Mahsa Amini,” remarked reformist journal Etemad, adding that the country has experienced “many cases of brutality by the morality police.”
The Jomhouri-e Eslami daily warned of “social division” caused by the unit’s officers’ “violent behavior.” In a phone call, President Ebrahim Raisi told the family that he would investigate the matter, saying, “your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel like this atrocity happened to one of my own relatives.”
However, some of the more conservative media sites attempted to counter the torrent of criticism.
The government-run Iran newspaper accused reformists of “using an unfortunate occurrence to agitate the population against the administration and the president.”
According to Kayhan, an ultra-conservative publication, “the amount of rumors and lies published in the aftermath of Mahsa’s death has increased significantly.”
“However, the police’s disclosure of photographs from this incident has prevented opportunists from abusing it,” the publication claimed.