BEIRUT — Several dozen protesters gathered at the National Museum in Beirut Sunday to show solidarity with Iranian women following the death more than two weeks ago of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini after detainment by the country's morality police. Amini had been in custody for wearing clothing the police deemed improper.
Lebanese Army soldiers and police were deployed to the scene Sunday afternoon while small verbal scuffles occurred between some protesters and photojournalists, L'Orient Today's journalist on the ground reported.
'Corruption is in the turbans'
A verbal dispute broke out between a protester and at least one male photojournalist but did not escalate. Earlier, a Muslim cleric arrived at the protest, but he was pushed out by protesters chanting “corruption is in the turbans." Some of the demonstrators told him that he was not welcome in the protest and demanded that he leave while shouting "freedom, freedom!"
Iranians based abroad and their supporters gathered in cities around the world Saturday in solidarity with protests sparked by Amini's death.
Reine Abbas, a university lecturer who was part of the crowd in Beirut, told L’Orient Today that she condemns "violence against any women."
"We are in 2022, it’s unacceptable for men to tell women what they can or can’t wear or do. I stand in solidarity with women whether in Iran or elsewhere," Abbas added.
"Women, life, freedom" and "Death to the dictator," female protesters chanted in front of Beirut's National Museum, in reference to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
One of the protesters explained: "It is not about the hijab as much as it is about women’s right to choose." The Iranian government requires women to wear headscarves in public, a measure put in place following the 1979 revolution which saw the country come under religious clerical rule.
"We are against tyranny and oppression, not against the hijab," protesters in Beirut chanted. "Give women their right to choose, it's time for men to stop telling women what to do, what to wear, who to love."
"Jina we are here for you," some demonstrators also chanted, in reference to Mahsa Amini's Kurdish name.
Others condemned "patriarchal and authoritarian regimes" and "Arab regimes normalizing relations with Israel."
During a speech Saturday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called Mahsa Amini's death an "unclear incident." He also praised Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who established Iran's clerical regime and introduced compulsory hijab laws. People across Iran have been demonstrating against these laws for the past two weeks in reaction to Amini's death.
"The most important element in the axis of resistance today is the Islamic Republic of Iran," Nasrallah said, adding that "a strong and capable Iran has been targeted since day one. Therefore, everyone is betting on the move from within, and the sanctions aim to incite people against the Islamic republican regime."
At least 92 people have been killed nationwide in Iran's crackdown on two weeks of protests, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) NGO said on Sunday.
Reporting contributed by Tamara Rasamny