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Top Iran official urges security forces to deal with protesters harshly as videos show people running while gunshots fire

A top Iranian official has urged security forces to deal with protesters harshly as videos emerged of people running down a street while gunfire rang out.

Some of the most serious protests in the country for years have been taking place over the past two weeks following the death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old woman died after being detained by morality police for allegedly not adhering to the country’s strict Islamic dress code, with her family claiming she was “tortured”.

On Sunday, Iran’s parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf warned that protests over her death could destabilise the country.

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He told politicians 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, Mr Qalibaf said.

“I ask all who have any (reasons to) protest not to allow their protest to turn into destabilising and toppling” of institutions, he added.

More on Iran

During the parliamentary session, politicians chanted “thank you police” in a show of support for a crackdown on the widespread demonstrations.

Image:
Mahsa Amini. Pic: Center for Human Rights in Iran

Gunfire, tear gas and at least ‘133 people killed’

His comments came as Iranian security forces clashed with students who were protesting at a prominent university in the country’s capital, Tehran.

Several videos have emerged of people running as gunfire rang out near Sharif University.

One clip showed security forces firing tear gas to drive the students off the campus, and the sound of what appeared to be shooting in the distance could be heard.

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Violent protests continue in Iran

Students had been protesting at numerous universities on Sunday and demonstrations were held in several cities such as Tehran, Yazd, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Shiraz and Mashhad, with participants chanting “independence, freedom, death to Khamenei”, earlier social media posts showed.

Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, said that “so far 133 people had been killed across Iran”, including more than 40 people it said died in clashes last week in Zahedan, capital of the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province.

A 23-year-old TikTok star named Hadis Najafi was among those shot dead during the demonstrations.

Iranian authorities have not provided specific details of the number of people killed, but have said many members of the security forces have been killed by “rioters and thugs backed by foreign foes”.

Around the world, waves of women have been protesting and cutting off their hair in solidarity with Iranian women.

A protestor cuts her hair during a demonstration following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Istanbul
Image:
A protester in Istanbul, Turkey, cuts her hair during a demonstration following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran

What happened to Mahsa Amini?

Ms Amini was arrested on 13 September for wearing her hijab too loosely, which is deemed as “unsuitable attire” under Iran’s Islamic dress code.

She died three dates later in hospital after falling into a coma.

While details of her post-mortem have not been released, her family have said she was “tortured” and claims a report from the hospital shows she “suffered a concussion from a blow to the head”.

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Iranian police claim Ms Amini died of a heart attack and deny she was beaten to death in custody.

Independent experts affiliated with the United Nations say reports suggested she was severely beaten by the morality police, without offering evidence.

The country’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered an investigation into her death.

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