Iran has been rocked by nationwide protests following the death earlier this month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police for allegedly wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely. Her death has sparked a wave of anger at the country’s ruling clerics.
Iranian police have clashed with protesters in dozens of cities across the country, and authorities have imposed internet lockdowns to quell the demonstrations.
State television has reported that at least 41 protesters and police officers have been killed since the demonstrations began on September 17. An Associated Press tally of official statements by authorities put at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 protesters arrested.
Iran on Thursday held a funeral for a police officer who died of injuries a few days ago in the working-class town of Parand, near Tehran.
Tehran’s provincial governor Mohsen Mansouri was quoted by state media as saying protests in the capital had ended and security had been restored.
Authorities are still blocking access to WhatsApp and Instagram, social media services used by protesters to organize and share information. They also severely limit internet access in the afternoon to prevent demonstrations from forming.
Protesters have shouted “Death to the dictator” from buildings at night, making it difficult for police to arrest them. Students continued to demonstrate at some campuses, including Shiraz University in the south.
Authorities have meanwhile arrested Elahe Mohammadi, a journalist who covered Amini’s funeral in the Kurdish city of Saqez earlier this month. She is among several journalists who have been imprisoned since Amini’s death.
Police say Amini died of a heart attack after being arrested by the vice squad and was not ill-treated. Her family have questioned this report, saying they were told by other detainees that she had been severely beaten. They also say they were not allowed to see her body.
In a speech late Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi again pledged to investigate her death but said authorities would not tolerate a threat to public safety.
In death, Amini has become an icon of resistance to Iran’s theocracy, which requires women to dress conservatively and cover their hair in public. Authorities have faced waves of protests in recent years, mostly related to a long-running economic crisis exacerbated by international sanctions.
Iranian leaders have blamed the protests on unnamed foreign organizations they say are trying to foment unrest.
But on Thursday even Jomhouri Eslami, a hardline newspaper, conceded in an editorial that they reflect genuine anger.
“Regarding stopping the protests, the authorities shouldn’t think that the discontent is over and won’t grow. The current situation is like embers under the ashes that can flare up again.”