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Iran police fire tear gas at protest over death in custody

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian police fired tear gas to disperse a protest in the western, mainly Kurdish city of Sanandaj, where hundreds rallied to decry the death of a young woman while in police custody in Tehran last week, reports said.

The case of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained last Tuesday after Iran’s so-called “morality police” found fault with her headscarf, or hijab, has set off a public outcry in the country, mainly on social media. Police said she died of a heart attack and have denied any allegations of torture or abuse.

The semiofficial Fars news agency reported late Sunday that police also arrested several people from about 500 protesters who had gathered on Sunday at Azadi Square in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province.

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Fars said the protesters smashed car windows and set fire to street garbage cans. The agency’s website carried a brief video showing scores of men and women protesting, claiming the police’s explanation about Amini’s death was “not reasonable.”

Amini, who was Kurdish, was buried on Saturday in her home city of Saqez, also in western Iran. Protests erupted there after her funeral and police also then fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

After Amini’s death, police last week also released closed circuit footage from the police station, which they say shows the moment Amini collapsed. A relative has said she had no history of heart disease.

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Iran’s judiciary has launched an investigation into the case.

The headscarf has been compulsory for women in Iran since after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and members of the morality police enforce the strict dress code. The force has been criticized in recent years over its treatment of people, especially young women.

Since 2017, after dozens of women publicly took off their headscarves in a wave of protests, authorities have adopted tougher measures.

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