Almost a year after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died under the custody of Iran’s morality police after not wearing her hijab correctly, another woman lost her life after a fight over a forced hijab dispute last April 23rd.
Her death occurred after a fight between Iran’s paramilitary Basij forces and a group of people erupted in the parking lot of the Mahan Garden last April 23rd. According to netizens, the woman and the group of people were tourists visiting from the port city of Bandar Abbas, south of Iran.
The scuffle was captured on camera, which became viral on social media. The video showed a group of people fighting another group of people. The footage was taken inside a bus that carried members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and their families, who visited the park to pay their respects to Qassem Soleimani, the Qods Force Commander killed in a US missile attack in 2020.
The details of the fight and what led to the woman’s death were unclear and subject to debate. While confirming her death, the semi-official Fars news agency reported that the fight was between two groups of people with no mention of any involvement on the side of Iranian security forces.
On the other hand, the governor of Kerman Ali Babaei, the province where the fistfight occurred, claimed personal issues sparked the “mass conflict” in Mahan Garden without saying anything about protests against the mandatory hijab rule.
As for the death of the unnamed woman, who was either 59 or 60, reports suggest that she died due to cardiac arrest and she died in hospital. But some Iranians suggested that the older woman was beaten based on footage of the scuffle.
Iran International reported that Basij forces ordered women in the group to comply with mandatory hijab rules while visiting the park. When the group refused to obey, a fight broke out."
As the fight happened, one of the woman’s friends pleaded to stop as the woman was dying, but a female Basij member simply said, “Let them die, to hell with it.”
As the Fars news agency reported, many people have been imprisoned in relation to the incident. Yousef Sobhani, a judiciary official, said investigations had been launched on the issue and promised that “any possible crime would be seriously dealt with.”
Initially, the footage was shared by pro-Islamic Republic hardliners on social media since it showed people attacking Basij members and throwing rocks at them. But as anti-Islamic Republic netizens began sharing it, the video was removed from most accounts.
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and opposition activist, tweeted, “My heart is broken,” and likened the woman’s death to Mahsa Amini’s death which sparked perhaps the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy since 1979.
The woman’s death comes as the Islamic Republic persists in implementing its mandatory hijab laws which have become stricter and harsher in recent months. This month, Tehran Metro announced that they wouldn’t let women who are not wearing a hijab enter their stations.