Iran’s Khamenei backs police over Mahsa Amini protests, may signal tougher crackdown

Iran's Khamenei backs police over Mahsa Amini protests, may signal tougher crackdown
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  • Increasing public anger over woman’s death in police custody
  • Khamenei says Amini’s death ‘breaks my heart deeply’
  • Religious leader blames xenophobes for ‘riots’
  • Anti-government protests spread to universities

DUBAI, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader on Monday gave full support to security forces opposing protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death in custody, which is more than two weeks after Mahsa Amini’s death to quell unrest. He made comments that could be a harbinger of a raid.

In the first statements he made after the death of the 22-year-old teenager Arrest by the morality police Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Amini’s death “broke my heart deeply” due to “inappropriate attire”, describing it as a “bitter event” incited by Iran’s enemies.

“The duty of our security forces, including the police, is to ensure the security of the Iranian nation… Those who attack the police leave Iranian citizens vulnerable to bandits, robbers and extortionists,” Khamenei told a group of armed forces students. in Tehran.

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Police and security forces, including volunteer Basij militias, are putting pressure on the protests, where thousands have been arrested and hundreds injured, according to human rights groups, which put the death toll above 130.

Iranian officials have reported many members of the security forces killed during the unrest that has turned into the largest demonstration of opposition against Iranian authorities in years, many of which have called for the end of more than four decades of Islamic religious rule.

Khamenei said security forces faced “injustice” during the protests.

“Some people caused distrust in the streets,” Khamenei said, harshly denouncing what he described as planned “riots” and accusing the United States and Israel – the Islamic Republic’s arch enemies – of leading the turmoil.

The harsh crackdown against the protests led to widespread international condemnation. The White House condemns the repression and Britain summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires and denounced the repression as “truly shocking”.


A few hours after Amini’s 9/11 funeral in the Kurdish town of Saqez. On January 17, thousands of Iranians took to the streets across the country, burning photos of Khamenei and chanting “Death to the dictator,” according to videos on social media.

Still, the Islamic Republic has little chance of collapse in the near term, as officials and analysts are determined not to show the kind of weakness that its leaders believe determined the fate of the US-backed Shah in 1979.

However, the unrest calls into question the primacy that defined Khamenei’s rule, the survival of the forty-year-old Islamic Republic and its religious elite at all costs.

“Those who sparked turmoil to sabotage the Islamic Republic deserve harsh prosecution and punishment,” Khamenei said.

The protests did not abate, despite the rising death toll and the increasingly violent crackdown by security forces using tear gas, sticks and – in some cases, live ammunition, according to videos on social media and rights groups.

Iranians, who opposed Khamenei’s warning, chanted “We want regime change” and “Death to Khamenei” from rooftops in many cities at night.

In a dozen cities, high school students took part in unprecedented protests, refused to attend classes and marched on the streets without the mandatory hijab. Videos on social media chanted “Freedom, Freedom” of young girls in the city of Karaj.

Demonstrations also spread to dozens of universities, and university students staged strikes to protest the security forces’ attack on Tehran’s leading Sharif University late Sunday. Dozens of students were arrested and many injured according to their social media posts and videos.

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Reporting from Parisa Hafezi; Written by Tom Perry and Parisa Hafezi; Editing Toby Chopra, Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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