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DUBAI: Iran faced more international criticism on Monday over the death of a woman in police custody that triggered nationwide protests after Tehran accused the United States of using the unrest to try to destabilize the country.
Iran has cracked down on the biggest demonstrations since 2019, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 after she was detained by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict restrictions on women’s dress. The case has drawn widespread condemnation.
But the measures have not stopped Iranians from calling for the fall of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the rest of the clerical establishment.
Canada will impose sanctions on those responsible for the death of Amini, including Iran’s morality police unit and its leadership, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
“We’ve seen Iran disregarding human rights time and time again, now we see it with the death of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on protests,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
Activist Twitter account 1500tasvir posted videos it said showed street protests late on Monday in different parts of Tehran, and footage where residents could be heard shouting “Death to Khamenei” from their homes. Reuters could not verify the videos.
Women have played a prominent role in the protests, waving and burning their veils.
Human rights group Hengaw posted a video which it said showed protesters cheering in Sanandaj, capital of Kurdistan province, as women took off their headscarves to protest forced hijab. In a later video, heavy shooting could be heard as streets appeared to be filled with tear gas.
Another video posted on social media purported to show security forces opening fire late on Monday during protests in Sardasht, a town with a large Kurdish population. Reuters could not verify the videos.
Iran said the United States was supporting rioters and seeking to destabilise the Islamic Republic.
“Washington is always trying to weaken Iran’s stability and security although it has been unsuccessful,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement.
On his Instagram page, Kanaani accused the leaders of the United States and some European countries of abusing a tragic incident in support of “rioters” and ignoring “the presence of millions of people in the streets and squares of the country in support of the system”.