PARIS – Angry protesters flocked to the streets across Iran on Saturday, despite internet outages, as the protest movement launched by Mahsa Amini’s murder in detention entered its fifth week.
The 22-year-old died on September 16, three days after being placed in a coma after being arrested by Iran’s notorious morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict clothing code for women.
Young women have been at the vanguard of the country’s largest wave of street protests in years.
“Guns, tanks, fireworks; the mullahs must go,” women without hijabs screamed in a video widely shared online at a gathering at Tehran’s Shariati Technical and Vocational College.
AFP confirmed that scores of jeering and whistling protestors flung objects at police personnel near a major roundabout in Hamedan city, west of Tehran.
Despite what online traffic monitor NetBlocks described as a “significant disruption to Internet connectivity,” demonstrators were seen pouring onto the streets of Ardabil, in videos uploaded on Twitter.
According to a social media site that tracks protests and police breaches, shopkeepers went on strike in Amini’s hometown of Saqez in Kurdistan region and Mahabad in West Azerbaijan.
They were reacting to a request for a large turnout for Saturday protests with the catchphrase “The beginning of the end!”
“We need to be in the squares because the finest VPN these days is the street,” campaigners proclaimed, alluding to virtual private networks, which are used to circumvent Internet restrictions.
In response to the protests, the Islamic Development Coordination Council, one of Iran’s top revolutionary organisations, has asked citizens to “show their revolutionary fury against sedition and rioters” after prayers on Saturday evening.
According to a Shargh daily journalist, a request went out this week asking “retirees” of the Revolutionary Guards to meet on Saturday due to the “present critical situation.”
According to state news agency IRNA, three members of the Guards’ Basij militia have been murdered and 850 have been injured in Tehran since the start of the “sedition.”
The US president has backed the women-led protests.
According to the Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights, at least 108 people were killed in the Amini protests, and at least 93 more were killed in separate incidents in Zahedan, the capital of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
The disturbance has persisted despite what Amnesty International has described as a “unrelenting savage repression,” including a “all-out attack on juvenile protestors” — as well as sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
Iran’s supreme leader has accused Iran’s adversaries, particularly the United States and Israel, of inciting the “riots.”
In reaction to the protests, the security forces of the ecclesiastical state have initiated a campaign of mass arrests of artists, dissidents, journalists, and athletes.
Iranian director Mani Haghighi claimed that he was denied entry to the London Film Festival because of his support for the protests.
According to the British Film Institute, Haghighi was scheduled to attend the festival for his new film “Subtraction,” but Iranian officials “confiscated his passport.”
“I cannot express my excitement and honor at being able to witness this wonderful moment in history firsthand,” Haghighi remarked.
“So, if this is punishment for what I’ve done, then bring it on.”