Teenagers also take off the veil and defy repression

In the demonstrations that have shaken Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman detained by the morality police, we meet all kinds of faces. The wrinkled, the determined, the tanned, the sleepless, and lots of young people. The students gathered last weekend before being confronted by riot police who cornered them in an underground parking lot at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology before arresting them. Since then, schoolgirls across the country have taken over, adopting a variety of tactics, including removing their veils and shouting anti-conservative slogans.

In a verified video, young girls, bareheaded, sing “Death to the dictator,” referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, at a school in Karaj, west of Tehran, on Monday. Another group of girls chant “Woman, life, freedom” as they parade down a street. “These are truly extraordinary scenes. If these demonstrations are going to lead to anything, it will be thanks to the schoolgirls,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj of the information and analysis site Bourse & Bazaar.

Nika Shahkarami, 16, died after a protest

Other videos posted online show schoolgirls leaving classrooms to march through various locations around the city in flash protests to avoid detection. Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri admitted on Wednesday that young people participated in the protests, denouncing the influence of social media. “The fact that 16-year-olds are present at these events is caused by social media, they are trapped,” he said, as the regime lashed out at Israeli- and US-led demonstrations.

Education Minister Yousef Nouri, quoted by the IRNA agency, told him that “the enemy’s attacks were directed both at universities and at the world of science and education.” On Wednesday, the NGO Human Rights Watch said it had verified 16 videos posted on social media that it said showed “police and other security forces using excessive and deadly force against protesters” in Tehran and other cities. Social networks had reported during the day that the teenager Nika Shahkarami had been killed by security forces during the demonstrations.

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