• Raisi says everyone is saddened by Amini’s demise
  • “Anarchy” is unacceptable, backing the security forces
  • The death toll continues to rise as protests spread to more than 80 cities
  • The death of a woman in police custody sparked protests over morality

DUBAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi said on Wednesday that the death of a young woman in custody had “saddened” everyone in the Islamic republic, but warned that “chaos” would not be tolerated as violent protests spread over Mahsa. Death of Amini.

Amini’s death two weeks ago sparked anti-government protests across Iran, with protesters often calling for an end to the Islamic clerical establishment that has been in power for more than four decades.

“We are all saddened by this tragic incident … (however) chaos is unacceptable,” Raisi said in an interview with state TV, as protests continued across the country.

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“The government’s red line is the safety of our people… People cannot be allowed to riot and disturb the peace of society.”

Despite the mounting death toll and a brutal crackdown by security forces using tear gas, clubs and in some cases live ammunition, social media videos showed Iranians chanting “Death to the dictator” in protest.

Still, the Islamic Republic’s collapse appears remote in the near term as its leaders are determined not to show weakness in what they see as a US-backed 1979 coup that sealed the shah’s fate, a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

The September 13 death of 22-year-old Amini has sparked angry protests in more than 80 cities across the country, after she was arrested for “improper dress” by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

Amini, from the northwestern Kurdish city of Sakez, died in hospital after falling into a coma, marking the first major protests on Iran’s streets since authorities crushed protests against rising petrol prices in 2019.

Raisi, who ordered an inquiry into Amini’s death, said “forensics will submit her death report in the coming days”.

While Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has yet to comment on the protests, a hardline watchdog organization called on the judiciary to “deal decisively with the main perpetrators and those responsible for killing and injuring innocent people and security forces.”

Khamenei appointed six senior clerics to a 12-member board known as the Guardian Council.

Support is growing

State media said 41 people, including police and members of pro-government militias, had died during the protests. Iranian human rights groups have reported a high toll.

Raisi supported Iran’s security forces, saying “they sacrifice their lives to secure the country”.

Dozens of Iranian celebrities, soccer players and artists – inside and outside the country – have supported the demonstrations. Iran’s hardline judiciary said it would indict them, state media said.

“Whoever participated and fueled chaos and riots will be held accountable,” Raisi warned, adding that “nobody should be afraid to express their opinion”.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they fired missiles and drones at militant targets in neighboring northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, where an official said nine people were killed. Read on

Iranian officials have accused armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents of fomenting unrest, particularly in the northwest, which is home to more than 10 million of Iran’s Kurds.

Washington condemned the attack, calling it an “unjustified violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Read on

Early Wednesday morning, protesters in Tehran chanted “Mullah lost!” A video showing such a slogan was seen. “Death to the Dictator!” and “Death to the leader (Khamenei) for so many years of crime!”

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos on social media.

Rights groups reported the arrest of hundreds of people, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists and at least 18 journalists.

Amini’s death was condemned internationally. Iran has blamed Kurdish dissidents for the unrest, as well as what it calls “thugs” linked to “foreign enemies”.

Tehran has accused the US and some European countries of trying to use the unrest to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

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Additional reports of Ali Sultan in Sulaymaniyah; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Edited by Matthew Lewis and Alastair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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