DUBAI – Even as the weeks-long anti-government rallies continued to spread to universities and high schools, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made a plea for national harmony and attempted to calm tensions.
Raisi admitted that the Islamic Republic had “weaknesses and faults,” but he reiterated the government’s position that the unrest that was started last month by the death of a 22-year-old woman while in the care of the nation’s morality police was nothing less than a conspiracy by Iran’s adversaries.
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He said in front of the legislature, “Today the country is determined to cooperate to decrease people’s concerns.” “National integrity and unity are requirements that make our adversary helpless.” His assertions echoed those of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who in his opening remarks on Monday’s statewide protests accused Israel and the United States of encouraging the unrest.
It’s a strategy that Iran’s authorities are accustomed to using because they continue to distrust Western influence following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and frequently attribute local issues to adversaries outside without providing supporting data.
The unrest, which began after Mahsa Amini, 22, was killed after being detained for allegedly breaking the Islamic Republic’s stringent dress code, has expanded to dozens of Iranian cities and has become the most significant challenge to the country’s leadership in recent memory. A number of escalating crises, such as the nation’s political repression, struggling economy, and isolation from the rest of the world, have festered and fueled public wrath.
According to rights organisations, Iran’s security forces have used tear gas, metal pellets, and occasionally live fire to break up protests. Human rights organisations claim that the actual death toll from violent clashes between demonstrators and police is significantly greater than the 41 reported by Iran’s state television.
This week marked the official start of the new academic year, and protests swiftly expanded to university campuses, which have historically been seen as havens in times of turbulence. Videos of students advocating for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and expressing support for friends who had been arrested were posted on social media. This week, numerous institutions shifted their classes online as a result of the disturbance.
On Sunday, security police surrounded the prominent Sharif University of Technology in Tehran from all sides and shot tear gas onto demonstrators camped out in a parking lot to keep them from leaving, turning the campus into a battleground. Numerous students were eventually released after being apprehended by police, according to the student union.
Students from Tehran’s Tarbiat Modares University marched and screamed, “Jailed students must be freed!” in one video from Monday. In another, students shouted, “Sharif University has turned into a jail! “when they passed through Khayyam University in Mashhad, a conservative city. The infamous prison in Tehran, Iran, known as Evin Prison, has been transformed into a university.
A video that has gone viral shows groups of young girls waving their state-mandated hijabs and chanting “Woman! Life! Freedom!” in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj and the city of Karaj, west of the capital, on Monday. Protests also appeared to sweep gender-segregated high schools around Iran.
The security forces of Iran’s response have drawn considerable criticism from around the world. President Joe Biden stated on Monday that his administration was “gravely worried” about reports of an escalating brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Iran, particularly women and students.
The British foreign office summoned the Iranian ambassador in London in a fit of rage over Iran’s response to the protests. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described the security forces’ use of violence against Iranian protestors as “really terrible.”
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