Iran's supreme leader blames U.S., Israel for mass protests

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says protests preplanned and meant to destabilize his country, calls protesters 'not normal' and the removal of head dress 'unnatural'; rights groups say at least 52 dead in clashes with authorities, thousands arrested

Associated Press|
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday, said the United States and Israel were behind the mass protests that broke out in the Islamic Republic following the death of a young woman in the custody of the morality police.
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  • Khamenei said he was "heartbroken" by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini earlier this month, calling it a "sad incident." However, he sharply condemned the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities' previous comments.
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    המנהיג העליון של איראן עלי חמינאי בטקס לסיום קורס של צוערי משטרה ב טהרן
    המנהיג העליון של איראן עלי חמינאי בטקס לסיום קורס של צוערי משטרה ב טהרן
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday, accusing Israel and U.S. for mass protests
    (Photo: AFP)
    "This rioting was planned," he told a cadre of police students in Tehran. "These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees," Khamenei said.
    He described scenes of protestors ripping off their state-mandated headscarves and setting fire to mosques, banks and police cars as "not normal" and "unnatural."
    His comments come as nationwide protests sparked by Amini's death entered a third week despite the government's efforts to crack down.
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    הפגנה ב ניו יורק נגד איראן בעקבות מות הצעירה מהסא אמיני 21 בספטמבר
    הפגנה ב ניו יורק נגד איראן בעקבות מות הצעירה מהסא אמיני 21 בספטמבר
    Protesters hold picture of Mahsa Amini during anti-government protest, in Iran
    (Photo: AFP)
    Iran's state TV has reported the death toll from violent clashes between protesters and the security officers could be as high as 41, without providing details. Rights groups have given higher death tallies, with London-based Amnesty International saying it has identified 52 victims, including five women and at least five children.
    An untold number of people have been apprehended, with local officials reporting at least 1,500 arrests.
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    הפגנת תמיכה במשטר באיראן
    הפגנת תמיכה במשטר באיראן
    Mass protests in Iran over death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody
    (Photo: AFP)
    Authorities have repeatedly blamed foreign countries and exiled opposition groups for fanning the unrest, without providing evidence.
    The protests over Amini's death have tapped into a deep well of grievances in Iran, including the country's surging prices, high unemployment, social restrictions and political repression. Demonstrations have continued in Tehran and far-flung provinces even as authorities have restricted internet access to the outside world and blocked social media apps.
    As the new academic year began this week, students gathered in protest at universities across Iran, according to videos widely shared on social media, chanting slogans against the government and denouncing security forces' clampdown on demonstrators.
    Universities in major cities including Isfahan in central Iran, Mashhad in the northeast and Kermanshah in the west have held protests featuring crowds of students clapping, chanting and burning state-mandated headscarves.
    4 View gallery
    מחאה ב איראן טהרן בעקבות מות הצעירה מהסא אמיני 21 בספטמבר
    מחאה ב איראן טהרן בעקבות מות הצעירה מהסא אמיני 21 בספטמבר
    Protests in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody
    (Photo: EPA)
    "Don't call it a protest, it's a revolution now," shouted students at Shahid Beheshti University in the capital of Tehran, as women took off their hijabs and set them alight, in protest over Iran's law requiring women to cover their hair.
    "Students are awake, they hate the leadership!" chanted crowds of students at the University of Mazandaran in the country's north.
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