Tehran, 4 November 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Near the capital Tehran, protests against the authoritarian government have again turned violent, with tear gas filling the air, gunshots heard and a helicopter circling above the heads of the demonstrators.
“We have been to several protests, but this is in a different league,” reported an eyewitness in the city of Karaj, to the north-west of Tehran. Images shared on social media on Thursday showed injured protesters and members of the security forces.
Crowds of people poured into the streets, the majority of them women. Shouts of “We fight, we die, we will not endure humiliation” could be heard again and again, eyewitnesses reported. Security forces allegedly fired at the demonstrators. Some fought back.
“Somehow no one was afraid,” said another man on the sidelines of the protests. “People’s eyes were full of hate, there was no room for fear anymore.”
Thursday’s protests were prompted by the end of the 40-day mourning period following the death of Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was reportedly shot dead by security forces during protests in Karaj in September. The authorities deny this. Najafi has since become one of the symbolic figures of the protests.
In Islam, a mourning period of 40 days is customary. “When you see how the family is suffering from the death of their daughter, it makes you angry,” said one man.
For more than six weeks, the protests in Iran have not subsided. The traditional mourning period has now become a ritual for many to take to the streets regularly. It is not only grief and anger that drives people.
“Karaj is a centre for the protests because many from the middle class live here, but they are increasingly slipping into the lower class,” the protester said.
Iranian media also reported that a police post was reportedly set on fire. Other pictures on social media showed people taking weapons from an abandoned police car.
An alleged attack on a cleric also caused a stir. The Tasnim news agency reported that a cleric was attacked and wounded during the protests.
A picture posted on social media allegedly showed the injured cleric in the back seat of a car. The circumstances could not be independently verified at first.
For weeks, Iran’s mullahs have been criticized as a symbol of the authoritarian leadership in the Shiite state.
In the south-eastern city of Zahedan, where there have already been deadly protests, state media reported on Thursday a fatal attack on a Shiite preacher.
The mass demonstrations were triggered by the death of another young woman, 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini. The morality police had arrested her in mid-September for allegedly violating strict Islamic dress codes. She then died in police custody.
Since then, tens of thousands have taken to the streets against the repressive policies of the Islamic Republic. More than 280 people have been killed since then, according to human rights activists, and more than 14,000 arrested.