PARIS: Iran’s president on Thursday (Oct 27) claimed “riots” sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death paved the way for “terrorist” attacks, a day after a gunman killed at least 15 people at a Muslim shrine.
The bloody attack in the southern city of Shiraz came as thousands of mourners paid tribute to Amini on Wednesday in her western hometown, 40 days after her death in police custody.
Ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi appeared to link the two tragedies on Thursday, declaring that “the intention of the enemy is to disrupt the country’s progress, and then these riots pave the ground for terrorist acts”.
Raisi vowed “a severe response” over the mass killing at the Shiite Muslim Shah Cheragh mausoleum during evening prayers – an attack that was claimed by the Sunni extremist group Islamic State.
Protests have gripped Iran since Amini, a 22-year-old of Kurdish origin, died on Sep 16, three days after her arrest in Tehran by the notorious morality police for allegedly breaching the Islamic dress code for women.
The rallies have been led by young women who have burned their headscarves and confronted security forces, in the biggest wave of unrest to rock Iran for years.
Nearly six weeks after Amini’s death, the demonstrations show no signs of ending, fuelled by public outrage over a crackdown that has claimed the lives of other young women and girls.
Despite heightened security measures, columns of mourners had poured into Amini’s hometown of Saqez in Kurdistan province on Wednesday, paying tribute at her grave at the end of the traditional mourning period.
Mourners chanted at the Aichi cemetery outside Saqez, before many were seen heading to the governor’s office in the city centre, where Iranian media outlets said some were poised to attack an army base.
“Security forces have shot tear gas and opened fire on people in Zindan square, Saqez city,” the Hengaw rights group said, without specifying whether there were any dead or wounded.
After nightfall, blasts were heard as security forces fired on protesters in Marivan, Kurdistan province, in a video published by Hengaw, a Norway-based organisation.
“Death to the dictator,” chanted protesters in the nearby city of Bukan where bonfires burned in the streets, the rights group said.
Protesters also surrounded a base of the Basij militia in Sanandaj, a flashpoint city in Kurdistan province, starting fires and driving security forces back, it added.