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Iran blocks social media amid protests over death of young woman | news today

People clash with police during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran.

Photo: EFE-STR

Iranian authorities blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp on Thursday, after six days of protests over the death of a young woman detained by the morality police in which 17 people have died, according to the balance of a state media.

The number of deaths could be higher since the opposition NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo, speaks of at least 31 civilians killed by the security forces.

The death of Mahsa Amini, 22, sparked harsh condemnation around the world and international NGOs have denounced a “brutal” repression against protesters.

On Wednesday at the UN General Assembly in New York, US President Joe Biden expressed his solidarity with the “brave women” of Iran, following a defiant speech by his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi.

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The young woman originally from Kurdistan (northwest) was arrested on September 13 in Tehran accused of “wearing inappropriate clothing” by the morality police, a unit in charge of enforcing the strict dress code. She died on September 16 at a hospital.

Women in Iran must cover their hair and are not allowed to wear short coats above the knees, tight pants or jeans with holes.

According to militants, Mahsa Amini received a fatal blow to the head, but the Iranian authorities denied this and announced the opening of an investigation.

Demonstrations began immediately after the announcement of his death and spread to 15 cities across Iran.

“Seventeen people, including protesters and policemen, have lost their lives in the events of recent days” according to a new balance on state television, which did not specify the exact number of dead protesters and policemen.

The Iranian authorities denied their involvement in the deaths of the protesters.

The Guardians of the Revolution denounced on Thursday a “media war at all costs”, affirming that it is a “conspiracy doomed to failure”.

For its part, Amnesty International denounced a “brutal repression” and the “illegal use of pellets, steel pellets, tear gas, water cannons and batons to disperse the protesters.”

“Counterrevolutionaries”

Since the start of the protests, internet connections have slowed down and authorities later blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp.

“By decision of the authorities, it is no longer possible to access Instagram in Iran since Wednesday night and access to WhatsApp is also interrupted,” the Fars news agency announced.

The measure was taken because “of the actions carried out by the counterrevolutionaries against national security through these social networks,” added Fars.

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Instagram and WhatsApp are the most used applications in Iran after the blocking of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and Tiktok in recent years. In addition, internet access is largely filtered or restricted by the authorities.

In southern Iran, videos apparently from Wednesday show protesters burning a huge portrait of General Qassem Soleimani, killed in a US strike in Iraq in January 2020.

In other parts of the country, protesters set fire to police vehicles and chanted slogans against power, according to the official Irna agency.

Police responded with tear gas and detained an unknown number of people, according to Iranian media.

On Thursday, authorities arrested two female photographers, Nilufar Hamedi of the reformist Shargh newspaper, and Yalda Moayeri, who works for the local press, as well as reformist activist Mohamad Réza Jalaipur, local media reported.

“One option”

“No to the veil, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality!”, shouted the protesters in Tehran, in slogans that were echoed in acts of solidarity in New York or Istanbul.

Mahtab, a 22-year-old make-up artist wearing an orange veil that revealed her hair, declared in Tehran that “the veil should be an option, it should not be imposed on us.”

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The demonstrations constitute “a very important shock” in Iran and “a social crisis,” David Rigoulet-Roze, a researcher at the France-based Institute for International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), told AFP.

On Friday, called by a government organization, there will be demonstrations in favor of wearing the veil throughout the country, according to the Irna agency, and “in protest against the indecent actions of some mercenaries who set fire to mosques and the sacred Iranian flag.”

The demonstrations in recent days are among the most important in Iran since those of November 2019, caused by the rise in the price of gasoline in the midst of the economic crisis. A hundred cities were affected by the protests, severely repressed. The official balance was 230 dead, more than 300 according to Amnesty International.

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Source: Elespectador

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