Firebrand Iranian cleric demands no mercy for protesters

John Bolton discusses sanctions in Iran

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A hardline Iranian cleric has demanded no mercy for protesters during a menacing Friday sermon. According to media reports in Iran, Ahmad Khatami said in a Friday prayers sermon in Tehran the country’s judiciary should take tough measures against protesters.

Mr Khatami is reported to have told worshippers: “The judiciary should deal with the rioters – who betrayed the nation and poured water into the enemy’s watermill – in such a way that others don’t again fancy to riot.”

He continued: “They have told deceived kids if they stay in the streets for a week the regime will fall. Dream on!”

Tehran has blamed “thugs” linked to “foreign enemies” for the unrest and launched a savage crackdown on protesters.

The nationwide protests have turned into one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution.

Iran has been rocked by demonstrations which erupted after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September.

Protesters have called for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, although the unrest does not seem close to toppling the regime.

Provincial police chief, Ahmad Taheri, was quoted by the official news agency IRNA as saying today (October 21) officers arrested at least 57 “rioters” after protesters threw rocks and attacked banks in the city of Zahedan.

Zahedan is the capital of restive southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province which is the home of Iran’s Baluchi minority.

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Human rights organisation Amnesty International has accused security forces of killing at least 66 people in a violent crackdown after Friday prayers in Zahedan on September 30.

Videos posted on social media appear to show demonstrators in Zahedan chanting, “Death to the dictator” in reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

They also chanted, “Death to Basijis”, referring to the Basij militia which has been widely used to crack down on protests.

As protests raged in a number of cities, activist website 1500tasvir posted a video it said showed a demonstration in the central city of Isfahan as well as footage appearing to show protesters lighting fires on streets of the northwestern city of Mahabad on Thursday.

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Activists claim videos of protests have been delayed because of internet restrictions imposed in Iran by authorities.

The activist news agency HRANA said in a post 244 protesters had been killed in the unrest, including 32 minors.

It said 28 members of the security forces were killed and more than 12,500 people arrested as of Thursday in protests in 114 cities and towns as well as some 81 universities.

Canada’s Foreign Minister vowed on Thursday to support “the incredibly brave women of Iran” as she hosted a virtual meeting with her female counterparts around the world to discuss the crackdown against protesters.

Melanie Joly said: “No longer will they tolerate the regime’s vision of the role of women in society or how women should dress and behave.

“In them we see our humanity. We have a moral obligation to support them.”

Female foreign ministers from Germany, Chile, New Zealand and Norway had been expected to attend, while another French official was expected to represent Paris, according to a Canadian Government source.

The current unrest in Iran has raised international concerns as talks on the country’s nuclear capabilities stall and Tehran moves to further support Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Tehran has accused countries supporting protesters of meddling in its internal affairs while its religious leaders have sought to portray the unrest as part of a breakaway uprising by the Kurdish minority threatening the nation’s unity.

Ms Amini, who was from from Iran’s Kurdistan region, died on September 16 after being detained by Tehran’s morality police over the way she was dressed.

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