TEHRAN: Iranian police called on Monday the death of Mahsa Amini an “unfortunate incident” that they do not want to see repeated, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Amini was a 22 year-old woman who fell into a coma and died following her arrest in Tehran by the morality police last week, sparking protests across the country by Iranians angered by the treatment of women by the country's security forces.
“Cowardly accusations have been levelled against the Iranian police. We will wait until the day of judgment but we cannot stop doing security work,” Greater Tehran Police Commander Hossein Rahimi added.
Protests persisted on Sunday and #MahsaAmini became one of the top hashtags ever on Persian-language Twitter as Iranians fumed over her death.
Amini, 22, died on Friday after falling into a coma following her arrest in Tehran earlier in the week in the custody of morality police enforcing strict hijab rules.
The death of Amini has reignited calls to rein in its actions against women suspected of violating the dress code.
The day after her funeral in Kurdistan, nearly all Iranian press dedicated their front pages to her story on Sunday.
“The nation has expressed its sorrow over Mahsa’s sad death,” stated the front page of ultra-conservative newspaper Javan.
Originally from the northwestern Kurdistan province, Amini was on a visit with her family to Tehran when she was detained on Tuesday.
Hundreds of protesters gathered on Sunday around the University of Tehran on Sunday, shouting “Woman, Life, Freedom,” according to online videos.
The #MahsaAmini hashtag has now reached 1.63 million mentions on Twitter.
There were also protests in Kurdistan on Saturday, including at the funeral in her hometown Saqez.
Police repressed the Saqez demonstrations, with videos posted online showing at least one man with a head injury.
In Saqez, some residents hurled stones at the governor’s office and chanted slogans against the authorities.
Behzad Rahimi, an MP for Saqez, said that a few people were wounded at the funeral.
“One of them was hospitalized in the Saqez Hospital after being hit in the intestines by ballbearings,” he said.
Kurdish rights group Hengaw said that 33 people were injured in Saqez.
As Iran reels from the woman’s death, the Sunday front page of financial newspaper Asia declared: “Dear Mahsa, your name will become a symbol.”
The police unit — responsible for enforcing Iran’s dress code for women — had already faced growing criticism in recent months over its excessive use of force.
“The people are shocked and outraged by what happened to Mahsa Amini,” reformist publication Etemad noted, stating that the country has suffered “multiple instances of violence by the morality police.”
The Jomhouri-e Eslami daily warned against “social fragmentation” triggered by the “violent behavior” of the unit’s officers President Ebrahim Raisi promised the family in a phone call that he would follow up the case, telling them “your daughter is like my own daughter and I feel like this incident happened to one of my own relatives.”
However, some of the more conservative media outlets sought to push back against the barrage of criticism.
The government daily Iran newspaper accused reformists of “exploiting public sentiments by using an unfortunate incident to incite the nation against the government and the president.”
One ultra-conservative newspaper, Kayhan, claimed that “the amount of rumors and lies spread in the wake of Mahsa’s death has risen considerably.”
“Nevertheless, the publication of images of this incident by the police has stopped opportunists from exploiting it,” the publication argued.