Iran’s Khamenei Backs Police Over Mahsa Amini Protests, May Signal Tougher Crackdown

  • Public anger grows over the death of a woman in police custody
  • Khamenei says Amini’s death ‘deeply broke my heart’
  • Supreme leader blames foreign enemies for ‘riots’
  • Anti-government protests spread to universities

DUBAI, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader on Monday gave his full backing to security forces facing protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in custody, comments that could herald a tougher crackdown to quell unrest. more than two weeks after his death.

In his first statement on the 22-year-old woman’s death after her arrest by morality police for “inappropriate dress”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said her death “deeply broke my heart” and called it a “bitter incident”. ” provoked by the enemies of Iran.

“The duty of our security forces, including the police, is to ensure the security of the Iranian nation… Those who attack the police leave Iranian citizens defenseless against thugs, thieves and extortionists,” Khamenei told a group of cadets in the armed forces. in Tehran.

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

Security forces, including police and Basij volunteer militia, have been leading the crackdown on the protests, with thousands arrested and hundreds injured, according to human rights groups, bringing the death toll to more than 130.

Iranian authorities reported that many members of the security forces were killed during the unrest, which became the biggest show of opposition to Iran’s authorities in years, with many calling for an end to more than four decades of Islamic clerical rule.

Khamenei said security forces had faced “injustice” during the protests. “In recent incidents, it is above all the security forces, including the police and Basij, as well as the people of Iran, who have been wronged,” he said.

“Some people have caused insecurity in the streets,” Khamenei said, sharply condemning what he described as planned “riots” and accusing the United States and Israel – the Islamic Republic’s arch-enemies – of orchestrating the riots.


“I openly declare that the recent riots were plans designed by the United States, the fake Zionist regime (Israel) and their mercenaries inside and outside Iran,” said Khamenei, Iran’s top official.

Within hours of Amini’s funeral in the Kurdish city of Saqez on September 17, thousands of Iranians took to the streets across the country, burning pictures of Khamenei and chanting “Death to the dictator,” according to videos on social media.

Still, there is little chance of a collapse of the Islamic Republic anytime soon as its leaders are determined not to show the kind of weakness they believe sealed the fate of the US-backed Shah in 1979, officials and analysts said. to Reuters.

However, the unrest calls into question the priority that Khamenei’s government has defined: the survival at all costs of the four-decade-old Islamic Republic and its religious elite.

“Those who ignited riots to sabotage the Islamic Republic deserve harsh prosecution and punishment,” Khamenei said.

The protests have not abated despite a mounting death toll and an increasingly violent crackdown by security forces with tear gas, batons and, in some cases, according to videos on social media and human rights groups, live ammunition

Protests continued across Iran on Monday, with university students staging strikes after security forces clashed with students at Tehran’s prominent Sharif University on Sunday.

Dozens of students were arrested and many were injured according to social media posts and videos. Iran’s state news agency said most of the arrested students were released on Monday. Reuters was unable to verify the videos and posts.

Authorities said only doctoral students from Sharif University would be allowed to enter the campus until further notice, state media reported.

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

Reporting from Parisa Hafezi; Written by Tom Perry and Parisa Hafezi; Edited by Toby Chopra and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *