Iran: Protests multiply after the death of a young woman, eight dead

These nocturnal demonstrations have spread in the Islamic Republic since the announcement of the death of Mahsa Amini on Friday, to the holy city of Qom, birthplace of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who spoke at an event on Wednesday in Tehran without mentioning protests in the country.

They took place in the streets of fifteen Iranian cities located in the north-west and south of the country as well as in the capital.

Angry demonstrators blocked traffic there, set fire to garbage cans and police vehicles, threw stones at the security forces and chanted anti-government slogans, according to the official Irna news agency.

Police used tear gas and made arrests to disperse the crowd, the agency said. Men and women, many of whom had taken off their headscarves, gathered in Tehran and other major cities across the country, according to the same source.

No to the headscarf, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality!shouted protesters in Tehran at a rally whose same slogans have been echoed in solidarity demonstrations abroad, including in New York and Istanbul.

Video filmed in the southern city of Shiraz shows security forces opening fire on participants in protests that continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Aged 22, Mahsa Amini, and originally from the Kurdistan region (north-west), was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothingby the vice police, a unit responsible for enforcing the strict dress code in the Islamic Republic.

Activists said the young woman had been fatally shot in the head, a claim denied by officials who announced an investigation.

In Iran, women must cover their hair, and the morality police also prohibit them from wearing short coats above the knee, tight pants, jeans with holes and brightly colored outfits.

In addition to the wave of anger triggered in Iran, the announcement of the death of the young woman, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, aroused strong international condemnation, in particular from the UN, the United States and France.

Reacting to international condemnations, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Tuesday evening condemned what he called “foreign interventionist positions“.

Other video footage shows protesters hitting back at security forces by snatching tear gas canisters from law enforcement and preventing them from making arrests. One of the biggest viral trends on social media is seeing women setting their headscarves on fire.

A Norwegian-based Kurdish advocacy group, Hengaw, said on Wednesday that two more protesters were killed in Iran overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. For their part, the Iranian authorities reported on Wednesday a death toll of six since the start of the demonstrations.

Iranian Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepour spoke on Wednesday of the possibility of Internet access restrictions in the country during the protests “due to security issues“, he said, quoted by the ISNA news agency.

Reacting to international condemnations, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Tuesday evening condemned what he called “foreign interventionist positions“.

These events are “a very strong jolt“in Iran,”it’s a social crisis“, David Rigoulet-Roze, associate researcher at Iris, specialist in Iran, told AFP.

There is a disconnect between authorities stuck on their DNA from the 1979 Islamic Revolution and an increasingly secularized society. It is a whole project of society that is called into question. There is a wavering among the authorities on the procedure to follow vis-à-vis this movement“, explained the researcher.

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