Iran’s parliamentary speaker has warned that protests over the death of a young woman in police custody could destabilise the country and urged security forces to deal harshly with those he claimed endanger public order.
Scattered anti-government protests appeared to break out in Tehran and running clashes with security forces in other towns, social media reports showed yesterday, even as the government moved to block, partly or entirely, internet connectivity in Iran.
Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf told lawmakers that unlike the current protests – which he said aimed to topple the government – previous demonstrations by teachers and retirees over pay were aimed at reforms.
“The important point of the (past) protests was that they were reform-seeking and not aimed at overthrowing” the system, said Mr Qalibaf. “I ask all who have any (reasons to) protest not to allow their protest to turn into destabilising and toppling” of institutions.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest over the death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old woman had been detained by Iran’s morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.
The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since 1979.
Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began September 17.
Mr Qalibaf, the parliamentary speaker, is a former influential commander in the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard. He is one of three ranking officials who deal with all important issues of the nation.