Iran rebuffs US officials' comments on young woman's death, amid heated protests

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By Euronews  with AP
Iranian women wearing headscarves crossing a street in Tehran, Iran. Sunday, 22 April 2018.
Iranian women wearing headscarves crossing a street in Tehran, Iran. Sunday, 22 April 2018.   -   Copyright  Vahid Salemi/AP

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday repudiated remarks by US officials on the death of a young woman following her detainment by the country's so-called morality police, amid fierce protests throughout the country.

A massive furore erupted after Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested by Iran's morality police last Tuesday due to issues with her headscarf.

Police said she died of a heart attack and have denied any allegations of torture or abuse.

In response, US special envoy on Iran Robert Malley had described the incident "appalling."

"Mahsa Amini's death after injuries sustained in custody for an 'improper' hijab is appalling. Our thoughts are with her family. Iran must end its violence against women for exercising their fundamental rights. Those responsible for her death should be held accountable," he had said in a tweet last Friday.

The Iranian government has subsequently responded to commentary from the American side.

"We strongly reject any intervention by US officials in the Islamic republic of Iran's domestic affairs. If the US government is concerned about the Iranian nation, it should remove its decades-old oppressive, unilateral, illegal siege against the Iranian nation," said spokesman Nasser Kanaani.

Kanaani also mentioned the possibility that Iran could meet with the US on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York City to discuss reviving its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

"Ali Bagheri Kani, the chief nuclear negotiator, will be present at the... General Assembly as part of the delegation, but there is no specific plan to discuss the nuclear deal. However, I do not rule out the possibility of talks regarding the nuclear deal," he said.

In the meanwhile, heated demonstrations have been taking place in the Iranian capital and in the Kurdistan region. Women have also been cutting their hair in protest.

The semiofficial Fars news agency said students in many Tehran universities convened to publically demand an investigation into the young woman's death and the dismantling of the morality police.

Iranian police fired tear gas to disperse a protest in the western, mainly Kurdish city of Sanandaj, where hundreds rallied to decry her death while in police custody in Tehran last week, reports said.

At least four people have been killed in the altercations that occurred between protesters and police in Iranian Kurdistan, a Kurdish rights group has claimed.

Iranian women have been forced to wear the headscarf since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with members of the morality police imposing the strict dress code. The rule has been controversial, and contested at various points in time.

Since 2017, following a wave of women who openly took off their headscarves in act of defiance, authorities have adopted more stringent measures.

Additional sources • Reuters