What ignited the Iranian protests and is this the beginning of something bigger?

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Iran’s president accused Canada’s presidents of “double standards” over human rights violations during the UN General Assembly

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Protests have erupted across Iran in recent days after a 22-year-old woman died while being held by morality police for violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

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The death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for her allegedly loose headscarf, has sparked bold defiance in the face of beatings and possible arrest.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday morning, accusing the West of “double standards” in the field of human rights. Raisi pointed an accusing finger at Canada, saying the nation’s treatment of Aboriginal people, “whose bodies of hundreds of children were found in mass graves at a school,” should not be condoned.

“Until we enjoy these double standards where attention is focused only on one side and not everyone is equal, we will not achieve true justice and equity,” Raisi said.

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Although the Indian residential school system still stands as one of Canada’s biggest mistakes, there were no “mass graves” or evidence of murder or deliberately hiding the graves.

Many Iranians, particularly young people, see Amini’s death as part of the Islamic Republic’s violent policy of dissent and the morality police’s increasingly violent treatment of young women.

The fatal incident prompted the initiation of a broader demand for regime change.

Here’s a look at what caused the protests to erupt and where they could lead.

What is the cause of the protests?

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Iran’s morality police arrested Amini on September 13 in Tehran, where she was visiting from her hometown in the country’s western Kurdish region. She collapsed in a police station and died three days later.

The police detained her for wearing a headscarf loosely. Iran requires women to wear a headscarf in a way that completely covers their hair in public.

Police deny Amini was mistreated and say she died of a heart attack.

Amini’s family says she has no heart problems and that they were not allowed to see her body before her burial. Demonstrations erupted after her funeral in the Kurdish city of Saqqaz on Saturday, and quickly spread to other parts of the country, including Tehran.

Who is protesting?

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After setting off on Saturday for Amini’s funeral in the Kurdish region, protests It swept through most of the country, leading to confrontations that the security forces sought to quell.

Women waved and burned their headscarves in protest, and some cut them off Poetry in public.

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“People from different worldviews and lifestyles are taking to the streets with one voice calling for the downfall of the regime,” Maryam Mimar Sadeghi, Macdonald Laurier Institute senior fellow, told CBC News.

Official sources now say that a total of seven people have been killed since then protests It erupted on Saturday, but reports from Kurdish rights group Hengaw suggest the death toll is higher.

Hengao also said access to the internet had been cut off in the Kurdistan region – a move that would hinder the sharing of videos from an area where authorities had previously suppressed minority Kurdish unrest.

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Disrupting Internet access is a tactic used by regimes to limit communication and movement between protesters.

Additionally, tThe website of the Central Bank of Iran was briefly removed on Wednesday as hackers claimed to have targeted the websites of several Iranian state agencies.

Central Bank spokesman, Mustafa Qarifafa, denied that the bank itself had been hacked, and only said that the site was “unreachable” due to an attack on a server hosting it, in statements carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency of Iran. The site was later restored.

The Ministry of Culture website was also not available until Wednesday noon.

Hackers linked to the mysterious Anonymous movement said they have targeted other Iranian government agencies, including state television and the presidential spokesman’s office.

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A person dressed as Iranian President Ebrahim Rasi covered in blood and snakes on his shoulders takes part in a protest against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a rally in New York City on September 21, 2022, amid the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
A person dressed as Iranian President Ebrahim Rasi covered in blood and snakes on his shoulders takes part in a protest against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a rally in New York City on September 21, 2022, amid the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo by Alex Kent/AFP via Getty Images

What’s Next?

Iranian leaders vowed to investigate the circumstances of Amini’s death and accused unnamed foreign countries and opposition groups in exile of seizing it as a pretext to foment unrest. This has been a common pattern in the protests that have erupted in recent years.

Today’s protests in Iran are reminiscent of its patriotic bid for 2019 The overthrow of the government and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which saw up to 1,500 protesters killed.

“The only way these women and girls in Iran can get rid of this indiscriminate violence, humiliation and daily fear of a totalitarian regime is to get rid of this regime,” said Mimar Sadeghi.

“Speaking publicly this way is certainly better than not doing it, but the foreign policies of democratic countries and the United Nations should state that this is a regime that should not exist… As long as this cabal rules, there is really no possibility of women’s rights inside Iran” .

With additional reporting from The Associated Press and Reuters

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