Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames the United States and Israel for the protests after Mahsa Amini’s death. The young woman died after being arrested for violating Iran’s strict dress code.
In his initial response to the weeks of unrest, Khamenei says the demonstrations are intended and rules out the involvement of “ordinary Iranians”.
Iran’s supreme leader says through state media that “his heart is broken” by the death of the 22-year-old woman. He said some people took advantage of the “bitter incident” to create “insecurity” and “riots”. The US and Israel and “their paid agents” have received help from “treacherous Iranians abroad”.
Iran has previously blamed external forces for fueling protests, especially the US and its allies. However, at the end of last week, it was announced that nine foreigners had been arrested in connection with the large-scale demonstrations. They come from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Poland.
Khamenei also expressed his support for the security forces. However, he said it was wronged during the unrest. Since Amini’s death in mid-September, demonstrations have taken place in many places, including women cutting their hair and burning headscarves. The wave of protests is Iran’s most significant in nearly three years and has killed dozens of people, including members of the security forces.
Amini died days after being arrested for not wearing her hijab according to the strict dress code. Iranian authorities say the Kurdish woman died of heart problems, but relatives say she did not have any and was severely beaten. President Ebrahim Raisi has launched an investigation into Amini’s death.