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Democracy

Iranian women cut their hair in a heartbreakingly moving protest of the death of Mahsa Amini

This dangerous act of defiance is gaining momentum and could help make an impact.

Mahsa Amini; Iran; Iran protests; Muslim women
Screenshots from @sepdani TikTok

Iranian women cut their hair in protest.

Sometimes a movement brings you to tears; tears that are mixed with pride, solidarity and sorrow, and that's exactly what this movement is doing across social media. A 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, was arrested recently by the morality police in Iran for not fully covering her hair with her hijab. While in police custody, where she was supposed to be reprimanded and educated about the proper way to wear a hijab, Amini was severely beaten before falling into a coma and passing away. The untimely death of Amini ignited a movement that is taking over Iran.


After the 22-year-old's funeral, protests broke out in the streets where women pulled off their hijabs and burned them. Since the news of her death spread, Iranian women have been removing their hijabs and cutting their hair in a moving display of protest and solidarity. Many of the women who have uploaded videos of themselves cutting off their hair to TikTok have been in tears. Women revealing their hair in public and online is extremely risky. In 1983, the religious revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini began enforcing a modesty law that required women to cover their hair or face 74 lashes.

Since 1995, women caught without their hair covered in public can also face up to 60 days in jail as well as fines. Seeing women in Iran defiantly cut, burn or rip their hijab in public is truly awe-inspiring because the risks are so great. But the women are not alone in their fight to abolish the morality police and hold them accountable for the death of Amini. Men in Iran are not only showing solidarity by shaving their heads, they're showing up in the streets, seemingly acting as protectors and accomplices.

@sepdani So heartbreaking 💔 #mahsaamini#mahsaamini🖤😔#justiceformahsa#humanrights#iraniantiktok#iraniangirl#farsitiktok#نه_به_حجاب_اجباري#مهسا_امینی♬ Ali Zandevakili - ﮼نالی

In one video, a girl with beautiful long dark hair sections her hair off before taking small scissors and cutting it close to her scalp. She begins to break down with the first cut, but she finishes before crying into her hands. Music plays in the background and words are displayed over the video explaining why the unknown woman is cutting her hair.

This isn't the first time Iranian's have protested the hijab. When the idea of a national modesty dress code was introduced in 1979, people protested, which temporarily caused the country's leader to walk back on publicly pushing it before it became law a few years later. According to U.S. News, there has been a steady push back against the hijab rule since 2014 after the creation of an online campaign called My Stealthy Freedom. The campaign collected pictures of Iranian women without their hair covered.

@mhd__ahmadi

They Killed her,But Mashsa Amini is alive in our mind🖤 #mahsaamini #viral #protest #hijab #freedom #مهسا_امینی #گشت_ارشاد #مهساامینی #ایران @selenagomez @taylorswift @dailymail @amandacerny @samsmith @brodywellmaker

The protests going on today are large in number and happening despite the country shutting down internet and social media channels in an effort to control the narrative and reduce coverage of the protests. But videos continue to pop up online showing things burning and people filling the streets chanting. One video that has more than 900,000 views and more than 200,000 likes shows a crowd gathered while women burn their hijabs.

Videos are appearing on TikTok claiming to show the continued unrest in the streets. The hashtag #MahsaAmini on TikTok is filled with videos of people cutting their hair, crowds gathered in the streets and stories of the 22-year-old whose death may have spurred a revolution.

Events are still unfolding in Iran and with internet access being cut, the information about continued protests may become more difficult to come by. But the videos that are making their way to social media are as inspiring as they are heartbreaking. Hopefully protests on this scale will bring about real change for the women in Iran.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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