Khamenei warns Iran is like a ‘mighty tree’ that cannot be uprooted.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Riot police ride a motorbike on the street in Tehran, Iran, October 3, 2022. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday no one dared to think they could uproot the Islamic Republic, in his toughest warning to protesters yet. Since Mahsa Amini’s detention by police has sparked nationwide unrest in the fourth week.

Protests by all walks of life over the case of the Iranian Kurdish woman have grown into widespread calls for the fall of Khamenei and “Death to the Islamic Republic”.

The protests mark one of the boldest challenges to clerical rule since the 1979 revolution, even as unrest seems unlikely to topple the system.

Khamenei compared the Islamic Republic to an unshakable tree. “That seedling is now a majestic tree and no one dared think they could pull it,” he said in remarks shown on state TV.

Police were heavily deployed Friday in a predominantly Arab city, a witness said, after activists called for protests, as the unrest showed no sign of abating.

Some of the most severe unrest has occurred in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities with long-standing disgruntled ties to the state, including the Kurds to the northwest and the Baluchis to the southeast. .

Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed in the crackdown, including underage girls.

Amnesty International said at least 23 children were killed by security forces in Iran during the protests. The victims ranged in age from 11 to 17, including 20 boys and three girls.

Amini died on September 16 after being arrested by Iranian ethics police in Tehran for “inappropriate attire”.

A witness said police were also heavily deployed on Friday in the city of Dezful, after activists called for protests in the mainly Arab, oil-rich Khuzestan province on the Iraqi border.

Two witnesses said there was a heavy deployment of police and volunteer militia leading the crackdown on Basij – in the main squares of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province on the border with Pakistan. in the southeast, two witnesses said.

Iran has blamed the violence on enemies at home and abroad, including armed separatists and Western powers, accusing them of plotting against the Islamic Republic and denying security forces. killed protesters. State television reported that at least 26 members of the security forces had been killed.


Zahedan was the scene of one of the bloodiest days on September 30 when Amnesty International said security forces killed at least 66 people in a crackdown following prayers.

Authorities said Baluchi fighters attacked a police station that day, triggering a shootout. The Revolutionary Guards said five members of it and the Basij volunteer militia were killed.

Iran, with a population of 87 million, is home to seven ethnic minorities along with a majority Persian. Human rights groups say minorities, including Kurds and Arabs, have long faced discrimination. Iran denies this.

A Revolutionary Guard major and a Basij militiaman were shot dead by “rioters” early Friday in the southern province of Fars, state television reported. A news agency said the two had

was shot after confronting “two rioters” who wrote graffiti.

Security forces also launched a crackdown this week in Kurdish areas, where the Revolutionary Guards have a record of cracking down on dissent.

The Kurds in Iran are an ethnic minority living among several countries in the region, whose aspirations for self-rule have also led to conflicts with authorities in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

Along the Iran-Iraq border in southwestern Iran is a population of about three million ethnic Arabs, mostly Shi’ites. Several groups, encouraged by Iraqi Arabs crossing the border, have pushed for greater autonomy in recent years.

While many officials have adopted an uncompromising tone, a top Khamenei adviser was quoted this week as questioning whether police should enforce the wearing of headscarves – words rare criticism of the state’s attempt to impose the hijab.

Amini’s death and crackdown drew condemnation from the United States and other Western powers, led to new sanctions on Iranian officials and raised tensions at a time when the talks Negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal are at an impasse.


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