Iran marchers call for execution of anti-government protesters | Iran

Home » Iran marchers call for execution of anti-government protesters | Iran

Pro-government rallies have taken place in several cities across Iran in an attempt to counter a week of mounting unrest triggered by the death of a woman in police custody.

Marchers called for anti-government protesters to be executed, while the army signalled that it was prepared to crush dissent by telling Iranians that it would confront “the enemies” behind the unrest.

Demonstrators condemned the anti-government protesters as “Israel’s soldiers”, live state television coverage showed. They also shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, common slogans the country’s clerical rulers use to try and stir up support for authorities, who claimed the demonstrations of support were spontaneous. “Offenders of the Qur’an must be executed,” the crowds chanted.

Anti-regime protests intensify after death of Mahsa Amini in Iran – video

A state TV anchor said the death toll in the protests that erupted last Saturday after the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini could be as high as 26, without elaborating on how that figure was reached. Anti-government protesters voicing pent-up anger over social and political repression have taken to the streets in several major cities in the most severe political unrest since 2019, when rights groups say hundreds were killed amid demonstrations against a hike in state-controlled petrol prices.

Videos on social media show protesters in Tehran torching a police car and confronting officers at close range. Elsewhere in the capital, videos show gunfire sounding out as protesters bolt from riot police, shouting: “They are shooting at people! Oh my God, they’re killing people!”

In the north-western city of Neyshabur, protesters cheered over an overturned police car. Footage from Tehran and Mashhad shows women waving their obligatory headscarves, known as hijab, in the air like flags while chanting: “Freedom!”

Amini was pronounced dead on 16 September, three days after being arrested by Tehran’s “morality police”. Her family and protesters say she died from injuries sustained in a beating by police. Iranian authorities say an initial coroner’s investigation showed she died from heart failure or a stroke.

“The death has tapped into broader anti-government sentiment in the Islamic republic and especially the frustration of women,” the political risk firm Eurasia Group wrote, noting that Iran’s hardliners had intensified their crackdown on women’s clothing over the past year since the former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi became president.

“The prospect of the leadership offering concessions to Iranian women is minimal,” it said. “In the cold calculus of Iranian leaders, the protests have likely gone far enough and a more forceful response is required to quell the unrest.”

A pro-government rally in Tehran on Friday.
A pro-government rally in Tehran on Friday. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Raisi, who on Friday told Iranian TV that the pro-government marches showed the power of the Islamic republic, on Thursday told a news conference on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York that Amini’s death “must be steadfastly investigated”.

“Our utmost preoccupation is the safeguarding of the rights of every citizen,” Raisi said. “If her death was due to negligence, it will definitely be investigated, and I promise to follow up on the issue regardless of whether the international forums take a stand or not.”

Raisi said Iran would not tolerate “acts of chaos”, referring to the six nights of protests, and sought to turn the tables on the country he was visiting by asking about police shootings in the US. “Did all these deaths get investigated?” he said.

The Iranian judiciary has ordered the courts to take a tough line with protesters, claiming the demonstrators were being led by foreign agents and stirred by anti-Iranian social media – a familiar accusation levelled by the regime when dissent breaks out.

The US announced on Friday it was easing export restrictions to improve Iranians’ access to the internet, which the Tehran government has severely hampered since Amini’s death in what the US said was a bid “to prevent the world from watching its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters”.

“In the face of these steps, we are going to help make sure the Iranian people are not kept isolated and in the dark,” the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said. “This is a concrete step to provide meaningful support to Iranians demanding that their basic rights be respected.”

Amini was detained for allegedly wearing a hijab in an “improper” way. As part of the protest action, Iranian women have taken to the streets and the internet, burning their headscarves and cutting their hair.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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