DUBAI, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited university campuses on Saturday as female students in Tehran chanted “get lost” and denounced protesters enraged by the death of a young woman in custody, according to videos on social media.
As the nationwide demonstrations enter their fourth week, Raisi recited a poem addressed to professors and students at Alzahra University in Tehran, equating “rebels” with flies.
“They think they can achieve their evil goals in universities,” Raisi told state television. “Unaware of them, our students and professors are on the alert and will not let the enemy achieve their evil goals.”
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A video posted on Twitter by the activist 1500tasvir website showed female students chanting “Get out Raisi” and “Mullahs get lost” as the president visited their campus. Another social media video showed students chanting “We don’t want a corrupt guest” in reference to Raisi.
Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the videos.
State media said on Friday that a state forensic report denied that Mahsa Amini, 22, died from injuries sustained to the head and limbs while in custody by the morality police, and that her death was due to pre-existing medical conditions.
Amini, an Iranian Kurd, was arrested in Tehran in September. 13 for wearing “inappropriate clothing” and died three days later.
His death sparked demonstrations across the country and marked the biggest challenge to Iran’s religious leaders in years. While angry crowds demanded the overthrow of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the women took off their veils in defiance of the religious order.
The government has characterized the protests as a conspiracy by Iran’s enemies, including the United States, accusing armed opponents of violence – among others – which reportedly killed at least 20 security force members.
Rights groups say more than 185 people were killedHundreds of people were injured and thousands were arrested by the security forces against the protests.
After Saturday’s call for mass demonstrations, security forces opened fire and used tear gas at protesters in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Saqez, according to Iranian human rights group Hengaw.
In Sanandaj, the capital of the northwestern Kurdistan province, a woman screamed “shameless” as a man lay dead in his car. Hengaw said the man was shot by security forces after he honked the horn as a sign of protest.
A senior police official reiterated the claim that security forces did not use live bullets and told state media that the man had been killed by armed dissidents.
State media downplayed the protests in the capital, Tehran, and reported “limited” demonstrations in dozens of areas. It was stated that many bazaar merchants denied that there was a strike and closed their shops for fear of being harmed by the unrest.
But videos on social media showed what appeared to be the biggest protest in the past three weeks in several Tehran neighborhoods, including a crowd filling the streets in the low-income Nazi Abad district in the south.
Videos shared on social media showed protests in many major cities. A video showed a young woman lying unconscious on the ground after she was apparently shot in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city.
Norway-based Iran Human Rights said that at least 185 people were killed in the protests, with the largest number of deaths in the restless province of Sistan-Baluchistan in the southeast.
While state television broadcast footage of Ayatollah Khamenei on the main evening news, the broadcast was briefly interrupted with images of Amini and three other women allegedly killed during the protests surrounded by flames, alongside pictures.
While the Edalate Ali hacker group published their web address, the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”, signed by the protesters, was heard. The group hacked security cameras last year and revealed that inmates were mistreated in a mostly political prison. [nL1N2PV1CH}
CALL FOR UNITY
After a weekly meeting, Raisi and Iran’s head of judiciary and parliament speaker called for unity.
“Currently, the Iranian society needs the unity of all its strata regardless of language, religion and ethnicity to overcome the hostility and division spread by anti-Iranians,” they said in a statement.
Hengaw also carried a video of emergency personnel trying to resuscitate a person and said one protester had died after being shot in the abdomen by security forces in Sanandaj. Reuters could not verify the video.
One of the schools in Saqez city’s square was filled with girls chanting “Woman, life, freedom”, Hengaw reported.
The widely followed 1500tasvir Twitter account also reported shootings at protesters in the two northwestern Kurdish cities.
A university student who was on his way to join protests in Tehran said he was not afraid of being arrested or even killed.
“They can kill us, arrest us but we will not remain silent anymore. Our classmates are in jail. How can we remain silent?” the student, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.
Internet watchdog NetBlocks said the internet had been cut in Sanandaj again amid protests in Kurdish areas.
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Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Writing by Michael Georgy
Editing by Ros Russell, Nick Macfie and Leslie Adler
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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