Pro-government rallies held in Iran amid mass protests

Sep 23, 2022, 2:40 AM | Updated: 9:48 pm
A pro-government demonstrator holds a poster of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Kh...

A pro-government demonstrator holds a poster of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini while attending a rally after the Friday prayers to condemn recent anti-government protests over the death of a young woman in police custody, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. The crisis unfolding in Iran began as a public outpouring over the the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman from a northwestern Kurdish town who was arrested by the country's morality police in Tehran last week for allegedly violating its strictly-enforced dress code. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian counterprotesters gathered across the country on Friday in a show of support for authorities after nearly a week of anti-government protests and unrest over the death of a young woman who was being held by the morality police.

Thousands attended a rally in the capital, Tehran, where they waved Iranian flags, and similar demonstrations were held in other cities. The government claimed the demonstrations of support were spontaneous. Similar rallies have been held during past periods of widespread protests.

The pro-government demonstrators chanted against America and Israel, according to state media, reflecting the official line that blames the latest unrest on hostile foreign countries.

State TV suggested late on Friday that the death toll from this week’s unrest could be as high as 35, raising an earlier estimate of 26. Anti-government protesters and security forces have clashed in several major cities in the most severe political violence since 2019, when rights groups say hundreds were killed amid demonstrations against a hike in state-controlled gasoline prices.

Iran has also disrupted internet access and tightened restrictions on popular platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, which can be used to organize rallies.

In response, the U.S. Treasury Department said it would allow American tech firms to expand their business in Iran to boost internet access for the Iranian people. Iran is under heavy U.S. and international sanctions.

A state TV newswoman said late Friday that 35 protesters and policemen had been killed since the protests erupted last Saturday after the funeral of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, without elaborating. She said official statistics would be released later, but authorities have not provided a full accounting of deaths and injuries during past unrest.

A tally by The Associated Press, based on statements from state-run and semiofficial media, shows that at least 11 people have been killed. Most recently, the deputy governor of Qazvin, Abolhasan Kabiri, said that a citizen and paramilitary officer had been killed there.

The crisis unfolding in Iran began as a public outpouring of anger over the the death of Amini, a young woman who was arrested by the morality police in Tehran last week for allegedly wearing her Islamic headscarf too loosely. The police said she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.

Amini’s death has sparked sharp condemnation from Western countries and the United Nations. Iranians across at least 13 cities from the capital, Tehran, to Amini’s northwest Kurdish hometown of Saqez have poured into the streets, voicing pent-up anger over social and political repression.

“The death has tapped into broader antigovernment sentiment in the Islamic Republic and especially the frustration of women,” wrote political risk firm Eurasia Group. It noted that Iran’s hard-liners have intensified their crackdown on women’s clothing over the past year since former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi became president.

“The prospect of the leadership offering concessions to Iranian women is minimal,” it said. “In the cold calculus of Iranian leaders, the protests have likely gone far enough and a more forceful response is required to quell the unrest.”

Raisi condemned the protests as he arrived back in Iran after addressing the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.

“We have announced many times that if anyone has a fair comment, we will listen to it. But anarchy? Disturbing national security? The security of people? No one will succumb to this,” he said.

Videos on social media show protesters in Tehran torching a police car and confronting officers. Others show gunfire ringing out as protesters bolt from riot police, shouting: “They are shooting at people! Oh my God, they’re killing people!”

In the northwestern city of Neyshabur, protesters cheered over an overturned police car. Footage from Tehran and Mashhad shows women waving their obligatory headscarves, known as hijab, in the air like flags while chanting, “Freedom!”

Separately, hackers have targeted a number of government websites in recent days, taking some of them down at least briefly. On Friday, hackers interrupted Iran’s Channel 3 on a popular streaming website and played videos in support of the protests. Normal programming was restored a couple of minutes later.

The protests have grown into an open challenge to the theocracy established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The chants have been scathing, with some chanting “Death to the dictator!” and “Mullahs must be gone!”

Local officials have announced the arrest of dozens of protesters. Hasan Hosseinpour, deputy police chief in the northern Gilan province, reported 211 people detained there on Thursday. The government of the western Hamadan province said 58 demonstrators had been arrested.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday that at least 10 reporters have been arrested since the start of the protests, many of them during late night raids on their homes by security forces who did not identify themselves.

London-based watchdog Amnesty International has accused security forces of beating protesters with batons and firing metal pellets at close range. Videos show police and paramilitary officers using live fire, tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators.

Iran has grappled with waves of protests in the recent past, mainly over a long-running economic crisis exacerbated by American sanctions linked to its nuclear program. In November 2019, the country saw the deadliest violence since the revolution, as protests erupted over gas price hikes.

Economic hardship remains a major source of anger today as the prices of basic necessities soar and the Iranian currency declines in value.

The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, in which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, but the talks have stalled for months.

The Eurasia Group said the protests make any immediate return to the agreement less likely, as Iran’s government will be more hesitant to make concessions at a time of domestic unrest and the United States will be reluctant to sign a deal as Iran violently cracks down on dissent.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., host and executive producer of the PBS series "Finding Your Roots...
Associated Press

PBS’ ‘Making Black America’ details thriving while excluded

LOS ANGELES (AP) — America slammed the door in the face of Black progress time after time, and time after time African Americans responded by thriving in a society of their own making. When Black doctors were excluded from the American Medical Association, they formed the National Medical Association in 1895. Black colleges, businesses, social […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Students walk on the Northeastern University campus in Boston on Jan. 31, 2019. A Northeaste...
Associated Press

Former Northeastern employee charged in campus bomb hoax

BOSTON (AP) — A former Northeastern University employee who said he was injured when a package he was opening on the Boston campus exploded last month was charged Tuesday with fabricating the incident. Jason Duhaime, formerly the new technology manager and director of the university’s Immersive Media Lab, was charged with “conveying false and misleading […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives his daily, morning press conference in f...
Associated Press

Mexican government considering army-run airline

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president said Tuesday his government is analyzing the creation of a state-owned, army-run airline that would fly 10 leased airplanes as well as the former presidential jet. The unusual plan would further boost the army’s increasing economic role in Mexico. The proposal was mentioned in a trove of army documents […]
12 hours ago
FILE - The Flint water plant tower is seen on Jan. 6, 2022, in Flint, Mich.  A Michigan judge dismi...
Associated Press

Judge tosses charges against 7 people in Flint water crisis

A Michigan judge dismissed charges Tuesday against seven people in the Flint water scandal, including two former state health officials blamed for deaths from Legionnaires’ disease. Judge Elizabeth Kelly took action three months after the Michigan Supreme Court said a one-judge grand jury had no authority to issue indictments. Kelly rejected efforts by the attorney […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Celina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent with an abortion r...
Associated Press

Abortion rights a key issue in Arizona attorney general race

PHOENIX (AP) — Abortion is the top issue in the Arizona attorney general election pitting Republican Abraham Hamadeh against Democrat Kris Mayes. Hamadeh, a former Maricopa County prosecutor and intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, promises to uphold Arizona’s longstanding ban on abortion if elected in November. He is endorsed by former President Donald […]
12 hours ago
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, speak at a...
Associated Press

German gas price plan exposes EU divisions over energy

BRUSSELS (AP) — Germany’s plan to spend billions of euros to help keep gas prices low for its consumers and businesses has received a tepid welcome from fellow European Union members, with some worrying that the measure could exacerbate the energy crisis. With a recession looming, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last week that his government […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Pro-government rallies held in Iran amid mass protests