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President of Iran blames ISIS attack on hijab protests

Iran on brink as leaders warn of 'revolution' to regime

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The President of Iran has blamed an ISIS terrorist attack on the widespread protests that rocked the country following the death in custody of a woman who was arrested for not wearing a hijab correctly. President Raisi linked the protests, which have now spread to every part of the country, to “outside” forces. He said the same of an ISIS-claimed attack that saw a gunman target a shrine on Wednesday. Some 15 people were killed, including two children and a woman in the city of Shiraz. In his response to the attacks, he said, in a sign of desperation: “The intention of the enemy is to disrupt the country’s progress, and then these riots pave the ground for terrorist acts. This crime will definitely not go unanswered, and the security and law enforcement forces will teach a lesson to those who designed and carried out the attack.” 

ISIS, which has carried out previous attacks on the country, quickly claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s incident.

Iran has often claimed that the terrorist group is part of a complicated conspiracy engineered by the West. 

On numerous occasions, it has also blamed the protests against the government on Western countries which have hostile relations with Iran. 

Mahsa Amini sparked the protests – which have so far claimed the lives of more than 200 people – when she died after three days in a coma having collapsed at a police station in Tehran.

Authorities claimed Ms Amini had a pre-existing medical condition but her family says she was beaten around the head. 

On Wednesday, the 40th day since Ms Amini’s death, the largest protests against the Iranian regime took place. 

The 40th day since someone’s death, known as “chehelom”, holds cultural significance in Iran and religious importance for Shia Muslims.

The protests started at the side of the woman’s grave in her home town of Saqez, in Khordestan province and continued on Thursday in Mahabad, a town which is ethnically Kurdish, like Ms Amini was. 

During the protests, government buildings were set on fire and three people were killed by police and security forces. 

Video footage of the protests shows many people shouting “woman, life, freedom” and “freedom, freedom”, slogans which have been used widely throughout the demonstrations.

Al Jazeera reported that 10,000 people attended Ms Amini’s graveside on Wednesday, to pay their respects to her. 

Reporter Dorsa Jabbari, speaking from Tehran said:  “Following the services that took place, when people were dispersing that’s when the disputes erupted between the people there and the security forces – as a result of which, we heard that the government there has decided to cut off the internet due to security considerations.

“That means that nearly 1.5 million people in Kurdistan province will not have access to the internet for the foreseeable future.”

Iran has cut off internet access throughout the protests, in an attempt to stop the demonstrations – but Iranians have not been deterred. 

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Universities have been key sites for protests in the weeks since Ms Amini’s death, as students challenge decades of oppressive rule. 

Government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi visited several universities this week to hold “dialogue” sessions but was faced with interruptions from chanting students.

Meanwhile, at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran and other universities in the capital and other cities, male and female students broke into dining halls in defiance of gender-separating restrictions.

Several universities then closed down the dining halls altogether, leading to students eating together on the floor outside.

Elika Ashoori, an Iranian activist, said the protests are “slowly evolving into a revolution”.

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