Iran's students clash with riot police in university protests

Iran struggles to contain the protests gripping the country as security forces use more and more ruthless tactics - Geraint Vincent reports

Videos posted on social media and shared by activists showed anti-government protests and clashes throughout Iran on Sunday, even as the government has moved to block, partly or entirely, internet connectivity.

Iranian security forces clashed with students protestors at the prominent Sharif University in Tehran. The activist Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has approximately 174,000 followers, posted several videos of the university surrounded by riot police on Sunday.

Protests have broken out at several universities across several cities including Tehran, Yazd, Kermanshah and Yazd on Sunday, with videos showing students burning headscarves and shouting "independence, freedom, death to Khamenei".

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest against the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by Iran's morality police in the capital Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran's strict Islamic dress code.

The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began on September 17.

At least 14 are allegedly dead as a result of the demonstrations, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested, according to a count of official statements by the authorities.

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Protests resumed on Sunday in several cities, including Mashhad, according to social media reports, and Tehran's Sharif Industrial University, according to the semiofficial Tasnim news agency.

Witnesses said security was tight in the areas nearby Tehran University and downtown as hundreds of anti-riot police and plain clothes officers with their cars and motorbikes were stationed on junctions and squares.

A protester near Tehran University, 19-year-old Fatemeh who only gave her first name for fear of repercussions, said she joined the demonstration “to stop this behaviour by police against younger people especially girls.”

Abdolali, a 63-year-old teacher who also declined to give his last name, said he was shot twice in the foot by police. He said: “I am here to accompany and support my daughter. I once participated in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that promised justice and freedom; it is time to materialise them.”

Videos posted on social media also showed students protesting at university campuses throughout the country.

Iran’s parliamentary speaker warned on Sunday that protests over the death of a young woman in police custody could destabilise the country and urged security forces to deal harshly with those he claimed endanger public order, as countrywide unrest entered its third week.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf told lawmakers that unlike the current protests, which he said aimed to topple the government, previous demonstrations by teachers and retirees over pay were aimed at reforms, according to the legislative body's website.

“Creating chaos in the streets will weaken social integrity, jeopardising the economy while increasing pressure and sanctions by the enemy,” he said, referring to longstanding crippling US sanctions on Iran.