Hundreds of protesters filled the streets near downtown Dallas’ Dealey Plaza on Sunday afternoon to voice support for ongoing protests in Iran over the death of a young woman in the custody of the country’s “morality police” earlier this month.
Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating a religious law requiring women to wear a headscarf. Her subsequent death while in custody has prompted Iranians to take to the streets of Tehran and other parts of the country.
Many Iranians see Amini’s death as part of the Islamic Republic’s heavy-handed intolerance of dissent, and the morality police’s increasingly violent treatment of young women.
“What happened to Mahsa Amini is devastating, and we need international support,” said Arrash Pirasteh of Plano, one of the organizers of Sunday’s protest.
The Iranian morality police claim Amini was not mistreated and that she died of a heart attack.
Her father, Amjad Amini, told BBC Persia that she had no history of heart problems, and he was only allowed to view part of her body after her death.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death.
Sunday’s protest in Dallas followed a similar one in Plano the night before.
Kani Dargali of Dallas held a sign that read, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dargali said it is essential to recognize Amini’s Kurdish ethnicity when spreading awareness about her death.
“It is wrong to leave her ethnicity out of this,” Dargali said. “This is two-fold because she is a Kurd, which is a minority, and a woman. It’s 2022, and it’s outrageous that a woman is being killed for not wearing a head covering right. It’s not OK.”
The crowd began gathering near Dealey Plaza around 2 p.m. and swelled to a few hundred before the protest ended at 5 p.m.
They sang, chanted, and cheered as drivers passing by honked in support. Some were showing each other social media posts of what was going on in Iran.
Amini’s death in police custody has triggered some daring displays of dissent from protesters in the face of beatings and possible arrest.
As protests have grown, Iran’s internet has reportedly been shut down for days. Some social media platforms, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, confirmed Iranians are having difficulty accessing them.
Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, reported on September 22 that 15 protesters had allegedly been killed and hundreds of others injured since the demonstrations in Iran began on September 16. Hundreds have also been arrested, the group said.
Iranian officials have denied reports that protesters have been killed by security forces, per Reuters. Some officials have claimed that “foreign agents” are fueling the unrest, according to the New York Times.
Iran has faced global condemnation over Amini’s death, with the United Nations human rights office calling for an investigation.
The U.S. Treasury also announced sanctions against seven senior leaders of Iran’s security organizations who the U.S. said, “routinely employ violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists, and members of the Iranian Baha’i community.”
“Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly,” Yellen added.