Iran’s president tries to calm anger as protests continue

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday called for national unity and tried to quell anger at Iran’s rulers, but weeks of anti-government protests engulfed the country at the university. and higher education institutions. school.

Raishi acknowledged that the Islamic republic has “weaknesses and shortcomings”, but the official denial that the uproar sparked last month by the death of a woman in the custody of the country’s morality police was nothing more than a conspiracy by Iran’s enemies. He repeated his statement.

“Today, national decisions are aimed at working together to alleviate people’s problems,” he said at a parliamentary session. “Unity and national unity are the necessities to despair the enemy.”

His claims echo those of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounces US and Israel, the country’s opponent, for inciting unrest with his first remarks on Monday’s nationwide protests. This is for Iran’s leaders, who have been distrustful of Western influence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and have commonly blamed foreign enemies for domestic problems without providing evidence. is a familiar tactic.

Protests in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested on suspicion of violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code, have engulfed dozens of cities across the country and pose the most widespread challenge to Iran’s leader. and developed. Year. A series of serious crises, including the country’s political repression, a depressed economy and global isolation, have contributed to fueling public anger.

The extent of the ongoing unrest, the most sustained in more than a decade, saw protesters shout slogans from rooftops, cut their hair, and burn state-mandated headscarves. It remains unclear as eyewitnesses report spontaneous rallies across the country marked by acts of defiance. .

Tuesday’s hardline Cayhan daily tried to downplay the size of the movement, saying that “counter-revolutionaries” or those who oppose the Islamic Republic are “an absolute minority, perhaps 1%.”

But another hardline newspaper, the Jomhri Eslami daily, called into question the government’s claims that foreign countries were to blame for the country’s turmoil.

“Neither foreign enemies nor domestic opposition parties can turn a city into a state of riot without a backdrop of discontent,” the editorial read. “There is no use in denying this fact.”

Iranian security forces have tried to disperse the demonstrations with tear gas, metal pellets and even live ammunition, rights groups say. Iranian state television has reported that at least 41 people have died in violent clashes between protesters and police, but human rights groups say the number is much higher.

A crackdown on the media has escalated, with dozens of journalists arrested over the past few weeks, suppressing most independent reporting on sensitive issues such as the death of a protester.

But the recent disappearance and death of a 17-year-old girl in Tehran has sparked outrage on Iranian social media.

Nika Shahkarami, who lived with her mother in the capital, disappeared during protests in Tehran last month, her uncle Kianoush Shakarami told the semi-official Tasnim news agency. Tasnim reported that she had been missing for a week before her corpse was found on the streets of Tehran and returned to her family.

A foreign-based Iranian activist has claimed she died in police custody, with hundreds of people distributing her photos and hashtagging her name online to protest. Dariush Shahounvand, a prosecutor for the western province of Lorestan, denied any wrongdoing by authorities and said she was buried in her village on Monday.

“Foreign enemies tried to create a tense and uneasy atmosphere after this incident,” he told Hamshari, but did not elaborate on what happened.

As the new school year began this week, demonstrations quickly spread to college campuses long considered sanctuaries in times of turmoil. Videos on social media showed students expressing solidarity with their arrested comrades and calling for the end of the Islamic Republic. Amidst the turmoil this week, many universities have moved classes online.

Tehran’s famous Sharif University of Technology turned into a battlefield on Sunday as security forces surrounded the campus from all sides, firing tear gas at protesters trapped in parking lots and preventing them from leaving. The student union reported that police arrested hundreds of students, but many were later released.

In one video on Monday, students from Tehran’s Tabiat Modares University marched and shouted, “Jailed students must be released!” Evin Prison turned into a university! — referring to Iran’s notorious prison in Tehran.

The protests also seemingly extended to unisex high schools across Iran, where groups of young schoolgirls waved hijabs and chanted “Woman! Life! Freedom!” in the cities of Karaj and the Kurdish city of Sanandaj, west of

Responses by Iranian security forces have provoked widespread condemnation. On Monday, President Joe Biden said his administration was “deeply concerned by reports of an intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Iran, including students and women.”

The British Foreign Office has summoned the Iranian ambassador in London.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said: “The violence by security forces during protests in Iran is absolutely shocking.

Security forces rounded up countless demonstrators and artists who expressed support for the protests. Local authorities reported at least 1,500 arrests.

Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour, who has emerged as something of a protest icon for a very popular song inspired by Amini’s death, was taken into custody last week. I was reunited with my family in Babolsar, a city in northern Iran.

In his brooding ballad “For the due of,” he sings about why Iranians are protesting.

“To dance in the streets,” he says in his tone.