© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A police motorcycle catches fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the “moral police” of the Islamic republic, in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS
DUBAI (Reuters) – State-organized protests took place in several Iranian cities on Friday to counter anti-government protests over the death of a woman in police custody, with some marchers calling for the execution of the rioters.
The protests come after the strongest warning yet from the authorities when the military told the Iranians it would confront the “enemies” behind the unrest – a move that could signal the kind of repression that has crushed protests in the past.
Protesters denounced anti-government protesters as “soldiers of Israel”, live state television showed. They also shouted “Die for America” and “Die for Israel,” popular slogans that the country’s clerical rulers use to try and stir support for the authorities.
“Violators of the Koran must be put to death,” 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 attire”.
Amini’s death has sparked anger over issues including restrictions on individual liberties in Iran, strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from bans. punishment.
Iran’s military on Friday sent its toughest warning yet from the authorities to protesters outraged by the death.
“These desperate actions are part of the enemy’s evil strategy to weaken the Islamic regime,” it said.
The military said it would “confront various enemy plots to ensure the security and peace of the people who are being assaulted without reason.”
According to the AsrIran website, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi on Friday warned “charismatics” that “the dream of defeating religious values and the great achievements of the revolution will never come.” come true now”.
The protests were especially strong in the province of Kurdistan, Amini’s hometown, and surrounding areas. State television said two arsenals of weapons, explosives and communications equipment were seized and two people arrested in northwestern Iran, including the border with Iraq, where dissident groups are located. armed Kurds.
Iran’s clerical rulers fear a resurgence of protests that erupted in 2019 due to rising gasoline prices, the bloodiest event in the history of the Islamic Republic. Reuters reported that 1,500 people were killed.
In the latest unrest, protesters in Tehran and other cities have torched police stations and vehicles as anger over Amini’s death shows no sign of abating, with reports of violence. security is under attack.
Iranian media reported on Thursday’s arrest of 288 rioters.
In Madrid, four topless activists from the Femen women’s movement protested Friday in front of the Iranian embassy over Amini’s death, carrying signs that read “Women, Life, Freedom” and Mahsa Amini was assassinated”.
The protest was peaceful and there were no arrests.
In Athens, angry protesters protesting over Amini’s death tried to reach the Iranian embassy on Thursday before being forced back by shield-wielding police. Protesters chanted slogans and held placards that read “Destroy homophobia and sexism.”
Protests over Amini’s death were also held in Canada and the Netherlands on Thursday.