Marchers of the Iranian state group call for the execution of protesters

  • Call for execution of thugs
  • Woman’s death sparks mass protests
  • Army issues stern warning

DUBAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) – State-organized demonstrations took place in several Iranian cities on Friday against anti-government unrest over the death of a woman in police custody, with marchers calling for the execution of protesters .

The demonstrations came after the authorities issued their strongest warning yet, when the army told the Iranians that it would confront the “enemy” behind the unrest – a move that could herald the kind of crackdown that has crushed protests in the past.

Demonstrators denounced anti-government protesters as “Israeli soldiers”, state television broadcast live. They also chanted “Death to America” ​​and “Death to Israel,” common slogans used by the country’s civilian rulers to try to stoke support for the authorities.

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“Those who violate the Koran must be executed,” the crowd chanted.

Iranians have staged mass protests over the case of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died last week after being arrested by ethics police for wearing “inappropriate clothing”.

The ethics police, attached to Iran’s law enforcement, are tasked with ensuring respect for Islamic ethics as described by the country’s civilian authorities.

Amini’s death has reignited anger over Iran’s restrictions on personal freedoms, strict dress codes for women and an economy teetering on sanctions.

The Iranian army’s message on Friday, seen as a warning to protesters angered by the death, read: “These desperate actions are part of the enemy’s nefarious strategy to weaken the Islamic regime.”

The military said it would “confront the various conspiracies of the enemy to ensure the safety and peace of those who have been unjustly attacked.”

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Allawi also warned “demagogues” on Friday that their “dreams of defeating religious values ​​and great achievements of the revolution will never come true,” according to the Asir Iran website.

Anti-government protests have been particularly intense in and around Amini’s home province of Kurdistan. State television said two shipments of weapons, explosives and communications equipment were seized and two people were arrested in northwestern Iran, including the home of Kurdish dissident armed groups along the border with Iraq.

Human rights group Hengaw said general strikes were held on Friday in Oshnavier, Java Rud, Sadasht and other towns in northwestern Iran, where many of Iran’s up to 10 million Kurds live.

Internet blocking watchdog NetBlocks said that Iran’s mobile internet has been disrupted for the third time.

“Real-time metrics show leading cellular operator MCI losing connectivity nationwide,” it said on Twitter.

Mobile internet was partially reconnected overnight.

Twitter accounts linked to the anonymous “hacker activist” expressed support for the protests and said they had attacked 100 Iranian websites, including several belonging to the government.

In recent days, the websites of the Central Bank, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several state-affiliated news agencies have been compromised.

Security forces under attack

Iran’s civilian rulers fear a resurgence of protests that erupted in 2019 over rising gasoline prices, the bloodiest in Iranian history. Reuters reported that 1,500 people were killed.

Human rights groups such as Hengaw and HRANA, lawyers and social media users reported widespread arrests of students and activists by security forces in their homes in an apparent attempt to curb the protests.

Majid Tavakoli, a student leader turned human rights activist, was detained overnight, his brother Mawson said.

“They raided the house and arrested Majid while he was sleeping… There’s nothing we can do. Please spread the word,” Mohsen Tavakoli wrote in a tweet.

Protesters in Tehran and other cities burned police stations and vehicles during the latest unrest, as anger over Amini’s death showed no sign of abating, with reports of attacks on security forces.

Iranian media reported on Thursday that 288 “thugs” had been arrested.

In Madrid, four topless activists from the Femen women’s movement protested Amini’s death in front of the Iranian embassy on Friday, holding up signs reading “Women, life, freedom” and “Martha Amini assassinated” ‘ slogan.

The protests went on peacefully and no arrests were made.

In Athens, angry protesters demonstrating over Amini’s death tried to approach the Iranian embassy on Thursday but were pushed back by shield-wielding police. Demonstrators chanted slogans and held placards that read “Homophobic and sexist killings.”

Iranian media said the foreign ministry summoned Sweden’s Chargé d’affaires in Tehran to protest the demonstrations at the Tehran embassy in Stockholm. Pictures posted on social media showed protesters writing signs outside the embassy.

Canada and the Netherlands also held protests over Amini’s death on Thursday.

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Reporting from Dubai Newsroom; Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by Alex Richardson, Angus MacSwan, William Maclean and Andrew Heavens

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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