They took place on Friday state-organized demonstrations in various Iranian cities to counter anti-government riots throughout the country caused by the death of a woman in police custody, with protesters calling for the execution of the “rioters”.
The pro-government demonstrations followed the strongest warning yet from authorities when the military said it would confront “the enemies” behind the unrest, a move that could signal the kind of crackdown that has crushed protests in the past.
Demonstrators condemned anti-government protesters as “soldiers of Israel,” live state television coverage showed. they also shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” common slogans used by the country’s clerical rulers to try to garner support for the authorities.
“Koran violators must be executed,” shouted the crowd.
The Iranians are furious about the case of Mahsa Amini22, who died last week after being arrested by the moral police for wearing “inadequate clothing”.
The morality police, attached to Iran‘s law enforcement agencies, are tasked with ensuring respect for Islamic morality as described by the country’s clerical authorities.
The 1500tasvir Twitter account with 117,000 followers reported heavy clashes in the central city of Isfahan between protesters and security forces.
Amini’s death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.
The Iranian military’s message on Friday, seen as a warning to protesters enraged by the killing, said: “These desperate actions are part of the enemy’s evil strategy to weaken the Islamic regime.”
The military said that they “will confront the various plots of the enemies to guarantee the security and peace of the people who are being unjustly attacked.”
Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi also warned the “seditious” on Friday that their “dream of defeating religious values and the great achievements of the revolution will never be realized,” according to AsrIran’s website.
Pro-government demonstrations on Friday showed the strength of the Islamic Republic, the president said Ebrahim Raisi.
“The presence of the people (in the marches) today is the power and the honor of the Islamic Republic,” Raisi said on live television after returning from New York, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly.
Anti-government protests were especially strong in Amini’s home province of Kurdistan., and nearby areas. State television said two caches of weapons, explosives and communication equipment had been seized and two people arrested in northwestern Iran, which includes the border with Iraq, where armed Kurdish dissident groups are based.
The human rights group Hengaw said a general strike was held on Friday in Oshnavieh, Javanroud, Sardasht and other cities in the northwest where many of Iran’s up to 10 million Kurds live.
Internet blocking watchdog NetBlocks said that mobile internet has been disrupted in Iran for the third time.
“Live metrics show nationwide connectivity loss at leading cellular operator MCI,” he said on Twitter.
Mobile internet had been partially reconnected overnight.
Twitter accounts linked to Anonymous “hacktivists” expressed support for the protests, saying they had attacked 100 Iranian websites, including several government-owned ones.
The websites of the central bank, the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several state-affiliated news agencies have been disrupted in recent days.
Iran’s clerical rulers fear a resurgence of the protests that erupted in 2019 over rising gasoline prices, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic’s history. The agency Reuters reported that 1,500 people died.
Human rights groups such as Hengaw and HRANA, lawyers and social media users reported widespread arrests of students and activists at their homes by security forces in an apparent effort to quell the protests.
Majid Tavakoli, a student leader turned human rights activist, was detained overnight, his brother Mohsen said.
“They raided the house and arrested Majid while he was sleeping… We can’t do anything. Please spread the word,” Mohsen Tavakoli wrote in a tweet.
Protesters in Tehran and other cities torched police stations and vehicles as outrage over Amini’s death showed no signs of abating, with reports of attacks on security forces.
Iranian media reported on Thursday the arrest of 288 “rioters.”
(With information from Reuters)
The videos showing the massive protests in Iran after the brutal death of Mahsa Amini
The UN demanded a prompt and impartial investigation into the death of Mahsa Amini while in detention in Iran.
Protests increase in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini and police repression already adds up to six dead