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Mahsa Amini: Iran protests spread to Europe as hundreds gather in Paris

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By Euronews  with AP
Mahsa Amini protest in Stockholm, Sweden, September, 2022
Mahsa Amini protest in Stockholm, Sweden, September, 2022   -   Copyright  أ ب   -  

Several hundred Iranians living in France and human rights activists alike gathered in Paris on Saturday to protest against Iran’s crackdown on demonstrations, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini arrested by the morality police for "inappropriate clothing".

People gathered in the central Place du Chatelet in the French capital and chanted slogans against Iran's leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They also urged French President Emmanuel Macron to intervene and make a stance against Khamenei's actions.

At least 35 people have been killed so far in the violent protests, which have entered their ninth day of protests across Iran. The Iranian government has not tolerated such protests, clashing with demonstrators and clamping down on internet access.

Amini was detained on 13 September in Tehran for "wearing inappropriate clothing" by the morality police, tasked with enforcing the Islamic Republic's strict dress code.

She died three days later in hospital, and her death led to night-time protests in major Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran.

The morality police, officially known as Guidance Patrol, also prohibit women from wearing short coats above the knee, tight pants and jeans with holes in them, and brightly coloured outfits, among other things.

The country's former President Hassan Rouhani eased the enforcement of the rules and openly accused the morality police of being too aggressive, leading to its chief promising to stop the arrests of women for violating the dress code in 2017.

However, the religious hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, elected president last year, seems to have reverted the policy, with reports of women being beaten with batons, slapped in the face and dragged into police vehicles on the increase in recent months.

The Taliban in Afghanistan are the only other ruling government that enforces strict hijab rules in the world.

'It's a revolution happening'

Women, in particular, have been seen cutting their hair off in the streets and publically burning their veils. Two human rights activists in Paris shaved their hair up on stage as a sign of solidarity.

"Today is not just about Mahsa, but it's also to show our 43-year-old hatred of the Islamic Republic. This is why we're here today and what we're seeing in Iran is a big demonstration, and if I may say, a revolution that is happening," Mahboubeh Moradi, an Iranian activist living in France, said.

Similar protests were also seen in Sweden’s capital Stockholm.

According to national statistics from 2021, around 83,000 Iranians reside in the Scandinavian country, making it one of Sweden's biggest immigrant groups.

"We are shouting out slogans, and we are talking, and we try to reach out to the politicians in Sweden and other countries -- that is the only thing we can do over here," said Roya Abdi, an engineering student living in Stockholm.

"I'm so sad that I can't be with my sisters and brothers in Iran who are standing in front of the dictatorship now for over nine days and just keep fighting," Abdi continued. 

Despite the Tehran government’s heavy handling of protests, Iranians have not been deterred and remain defiant to bring about change.