Death of Mahsa Amini: Thousands of Iranians respond to the call of the authorities and march to defend the wearing of the veil.

Thousands of people marched in Iran on Friday at the call of the authorities to defend the wearing of the veil and denounce the “mercenaries”, after a week of protests sparked by the death of a young woman arrested by the police, which made at least 17 dead.

While NGOs abroad have denounced a “brutal” repression of demonstrations in Iran, Internet connections are still very disrupted there on Friday, with the blocking of WhatsApp and Instagram, while Washington announced measures “to support the access of Iranians to the free flow of information”.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothes” by the morality police responsible for enforcing the Islamic Republic’s dress code. She died three days later in hospital, and her death sparked nightly protests in major cities in Iran including the capital Tehran.

State media on Thursday reported the death of 17 people in these protests, but NGOs, such as the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) based in New York, put forward higher tolls. “Independent sources speak of 36” deaths, the CHRI tweeted Thursday evening.

Live ammunition

“The government responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas, according to videos shared on social media,” CHRI said in a statement.

The Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw reports that the security forces fired during the night from Thursday to Friday with “‘semi-heavy’ weapons” at demonstrators in Oshnaviyeh (north-west), without giving further details. details.

In several cities, demonstrators clashed with security forces, burned police vehicles and chanted anti-government slogans, according to media and activists.

Police arrested an unknown number of people, Iranian media reported. Among them are activist Majid Tavakoli and journalist Nilufar Hamedi, according to their entourage.

The most viral images on social networks are those where we see Iranian women burning their headscarves. In Iran, women must cover their hair and are not allowed to wear short or tight coats or jeans with holes.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi promised Thursday an investigation into the death of the young woman, while specifying that the medical examiner had not reported abuse by the police, which the demonstrators dispute.

Faced with the protesters, described as “counter-revolutionaries”, “rioters” or “plotters”, the authorities decided to retaliate by organizing their own demonstrations after Friday prayers.

At the call of an organization responsible for organizing official events, thousands of people marched in several cities in Iran, including Tehran, Qom (north) or Isfahan (center).

“Death to the plotters”

In Tehran, hundreds of people including women in chadors demonstrated with flags of the Islamic Republic, signs of support and thanks to the police, according to state television.

“Death to the plotters”, “Advocating the end of the veil is American policy”, could be heard as slogans.

Praising the “efforts and sacrifices of the police”, the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, for their part assured that the recent “conspiracy of the enemy” would be “doomed to failure”. .

The authorities had reported Thursday the death of five members of the police.

After the start of the demonstrations on the evening of September 16, the government reduced access to the Internet and since Wednesday has blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp.

On Friday, Washington announced the lifting of some bans on trade with Iran, to allow technology companies to provide platforms and services that allow Iranians to access the Internet.

The announcement comes days after SpaceX owner Elon Musk said he intended to seek an exemption from sanctions against Iran from the US administration to offer internet connection services there via its constellation. of Starlink satellites.

These measures plan to allow “tech companies to provide the Iranian people with more options for secure external platforms and services,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

NetBlocks, a London-based site that tracks internet blockages around the world, said Friday that Iran’s internet restrictions amount to “a curfew-like pattern of disruptions”.

Access to “online platforms remains restricted and connectivity is intermittent for many users”, Netblocks said, adding that mobile internet was “discontinued for a third day (this) Friday”.

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