Protesters in Tehran set their scarves on fire while marching down a street. PHOTO: Getty Images
Protesting Iranian students clashed with riot police at an anti-government rally on Sunday night as the regime continues to battle its biggest rebellion in over a decade. On Sunday evening, around 200 students protesting against the state’s so-called morality police inside the Sharif University faced Iranian security forces and special units, who used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters.
Protests have roiled Iran for weeks, following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in custody after being rounded up by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday released a statement saying that the protests are a “plot” by the US and Israel against the country’s “achievements”. He praised the security forces for their crackdown on what he described as “rioters” across the country. During a speech at a graduation ceremony at a police university in Tehran, Khamenei described Mahsa Amini’s death as “painful”. Iranian celebrities and famous athletes have shown support for the latest demonstrations, which Khamenei dismissed. “In my opinion, these are of no importance, and we should not care about them,” he said, and warned the young people protesting that they will be punished by the judiciary, so they understand their “mistake.” Iranian activists on social media reported that students were arrested on Sunday evening after a crowd chanting anti-regime slogans was chased by the police inside the university’s car park on campus in Tehran.Iranian state news agency Tasnim reported clashes between the students and security forces but also said that the police had control of the situation.
The student protests have been relatively peaceful, with crowds chanting a mixture of political slogans, which the state media has described as “provocative.” Videos posted on social media from inside Iran showed a number of similar gatherings held on Monday, including in high schools.
133 people have been killed in the demonstrations, according to Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based rights group.Amini died on the 16th of September, a few days after falling into a coma while in police custody. Police insisted she had suffered from a “sudden heart attack”, but her relatives say she was hit over the head and died of her injuries. The young woman’s death inspired the most widespread protests seen in Iran since 2019. Protesters have singled out the morality police, which detains and arrests women for failing to wear sufficiently modest clothing, as a focus of their fury. Women can be fined, jailed or flogged for failing to conform to the strict dress code.Police patrols have been increased by the current hard-line president, Ebrahim Raisi, although the morality police’s presence has melted away since the demonstrations began last month. Despite the harsh police crackdown on the anti-government demonstrations, nightly protests have continued across Iran in cities such as Tehran, Yazd, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Shiraz and Mashhad. Iranians living abroad across hundreds of cities around the world have held gatherings in support of the last wave of demonstrations.