Iranian president told to ‘get lost’ by female students during university visit, activists say


Female students in Tehran chanted « get lost » as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited their university campus on Saturday and condemned protesters enraged by the death of a young woman in custody, activists said.

Raisi addressed faculty and students at Alzahra University in Tehran, reciting a poem that equates « rioters » with flies, as nationwide protests entered their fourth week.

« They imagine they can achieve their diabolical goals in universities, » state television reported. « Unbeknownst to them, our students and teachers are vigilant and will not allow the enemy to achieve their evil goals. »

A video posted to Twitter by activist website 1500tasvir showed what it said were female students chanting « Raisi get lost » and « Mullahs get lost » as the president toured their campus.

An Iranian state coroner’s report denied that Mahsa Amini, 22, died from blows to the head and limbs while in police custody and linked her death to pre-existing medical conditions , state media said on Friday.

A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Saturday. (Peter Dejong/Associated Press)

Amini, an Iranian Kurd, was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for wearing “inappropriate attire” and died three days later.

His death sparked protests across the country, marking the biggest challenge to Iranian religious leaders in years.

Some women removed their veils in defiance of the clerical establishment as angry crowds called for the downfall of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The government has described the protests as a plot by Iran’s enemies, including the United States, accusing armed dissidents – among others – of violence in which at least 20 members of the security forces were reportedly killed.

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Rights groups say more than 185 people have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested by security forces in the face of protests.

After a call for mass protests on Saturday, security forces fired on protesters and used tear gas in the Kurdish towns of Sanandaj and Saqez, according to Iranian human rights group Hengaw.

In Sanandaj, capital of northwestern Kurdistan province, a man lay dead in his car while a woman shouted « shamelessly », according to Hengaw, who said he was shot dead by security forces after he honked his horn in sign of protest.

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But a senior police official repeated the security forces’ claim that they had not used live ammunition and that the man had been killed by « counter-revolutionaries » (armed dissidents), reported the state news agency IRNA.

A video shared on social media shows a young woman lying unconscious on the ground after she was apparently shot in the northeast city of Mashhad. Protesters gathered around her to help her.

The Norwegian group Iran Human Rights said on its website that at least 185 people, including at least 19 children, had been killed during the protests. The highest number of killings took place in the restive province of Sistan-Balochistan with half of the deaths recorded, he added.

Call for unity

After a weekly meeting, Raisi and the head of the judiciary and speaker of Iran’s parliament called for unity.

« Currently, Iranian society needs the unity of all its strata regardless of language, religion and ethnicity to overcome the hostility and division propagated by anti-Iranians, » they said in a statement carried by state media.

Video on social media showed protesters marching through the northern town of Babol, and multiple posts said security forces surrounded students protesting on a university campus.

A police motorbike burns during a demonstration in Tehran on September 19. (West Asia News Agency/Reuters)

Hengaw also released video of emergency personnel trying to resuscitate a person and said a protester died after being shot in the abdomen by security forces in Sanandaj. Reuters could not verify the video.

One of the schools in the town square of Saqez was filled with girls chanting « woman, life, freedom », Hengaw reported.

The widely followed 1500tasvir Twitter account also reported shootings at protesters in the two northwestern Kurdish towns.

Riot police drive motorcycles down a street in Tehran on October 3. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

A university student who was on his way to join protests in Tehran said he was not afraid of being arrested or even killed.

« They can kill us, arrest us but we won’t keep silent anymore. Our classmates are in jail. How can we keep quiet, » the student, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.

Iran’s semi-official news agencies played down the protests in the capital Tehran. The ISNA news agency reported « limited » protests in around 10 neighborhoods of the city and said many traders in the bazaar had closed their shops for fear of damage caused by the unrest, denying that there had been any strike.

Internet watchdog NetBlocks said the internet had again been cut in Sanadaj amid protests in the Kurdish regions of the northwest. The group said on Friday that « Internet remains disrupted regionally in #Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan province, #Iran, seven days after an escalation of violence and killings of civilians by security forces. »


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