People take part in a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini in front of the United Nations headquarters in Erbil, Iraq September 24, 2022. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

 – Dozens of Iraqi and Iranian Kurds rallied in Iraq’s northern city of Erbil on Saturday over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in the custody of Iranian police.

Protestors carrying placards with Amini’s photograph gathered outside the United Nations compound in Erbil chanting

“Death to the dictator” – a reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Women, Life, Freedom” chanted others, many of whom were Iranian Kurds living in self-imposed exile in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.

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Protests broke out in northwestern Iran a week ago at the funeral of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died after falling into a coma following her detention by morality police enforcing hijab rules on women’s dress.

“They killed (Amini) because of a piece of hair coming out from her hijab. The youth is asking for freedom. They are asking for rights for all the people because everyone has the right to have dignity and freedom,” said protestor Namam Ismaili, an Iranian Kurd from Sardasht, a Kurdish town in Iran’s northwest.

Amini’s death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, the strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.

“We are not against religion, and we are not against Islam, we are secularists, and we want religion to be separate from politics,” said protester Maysoon Majidi, who is a Kurdish Iranian actor and director living in Erbil.

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(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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