Protest erupt in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini: World in Photos

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World in Photos: One woman’s death sparks unrest and a crackdown across Iran

It’s always difficult to know when a single incident will spark dissent or widespread protest. No one could have imagined that the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi would lead ultimately to the 2011 revolutions that came to be known as the Arab Spring.

Impossible, too, to judge the lasting impact of protests that have followed the death of a 22-year-old woman in Iranian police custody. But it’s clear that a “spark” has been lit — and that it’s causing fires in other parts of Iran.

The woman’s name is Mahsa Amini. She was arrested by Tehran’s “morality police” for allegedly violating a law that women must wear headscarves in public. She died in police custody of what Iranian officials say was a heart attack. Her parents said she was perfectly healthy at the time of her arrest. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has reached out to Mahsa Amini’s family and promised an investigation into her death — but he has also deployed security forces to crack down on the protests.

Those protests are growing, spreading to dozens of cities. At least 7 protesters have been killed and more than 400 injured, according a statement from a human rights group. The photos here give some sense of the size of the protests and the emotions behind them.

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Beyond their scope, the protests are significant because they are no longer exclusively about Mahsa Amini, or even the excesses of the morality police. While women have burned their own headscarves to protest the law, others who’ve taken to the streets are calling for an end to the Islamic republic — even “death to the supreme leader,” an unheard-of epithet (at least in public) in today’s Iran.

A motorbike burning in the middle of an intersection during protests for Mahsa Amini, a 22 year-old woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran on September 19, 2022.
Demonstrators take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody.
Demonstrators gathering around a burning barricade during a protest for Mahsa Amini, who was killed by the morality police for what she was wearing.
Dozens of people stage a demonstration in the streets of Iran to protest the death of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini, who was killed by the morality police for not wearing a headscarf in public.
Iraqi and Iranian Kurds, residing in northern Iraq, march near a park in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya on September 19, 2022, against the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini was killed by the morality police for not wearing a headscarf in public.


People gather during a protest for Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran.
A woman sets a headscarf on fire as Iraqi and Iranian Kurds protest near a park in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya against the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini died in Iran after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police" for not wearing a headscarf.
An Iranian police officer on a motorbike raises his baton to disperse demonstrators during a protest for Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran on September 19, 2022.
In New York, Iranian Americans protest Iran President Ibrahim Raisi by displaying photographs of murdered dissidents during a scheduled speech of Raisi at the United Nations General Assembly.
In New York, people protest against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi outside of the United Nations on September 21, 2022. Protests have broke out over the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini.
  • Tom Nagorski
    Tom Nagorski

    Global Editor

    Tom Nagorski is the global editor at Grid, where he oversees our coverage of global security, U.S.-China relations, migration trends, global economics and U.S. foreign policy.

  • Jake Garcia
    Jake Garcia

    Associate Producer, Multimedia

    Jake Garcia is a documentary filmmaker and multimedia producer for Grid.

  • Mariana Labbate
    Mariana Labbate

    Global Editorial Assistant

    Mariana Labbate is the editorial assistant for Grid's Global team.

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