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Iran’s cities ‘safe and sound’, thwarted US destabilisation: President Raisi

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On Saturday, as the protests entered their 50th day, Iranian media reported that President Ebrahim Raisi claimed that Iran’s cities were “safe and sound” following what he described as a failed American attempt to replicate the Arab uprisings of 2011.

The young Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini died in September after being detained by morality police for breaking strict dress codes for women. Since her death, Iran’s clerical leadership has struggled to quell protests that erupted in response.

In one of the worst waves of unrest to hit the nation since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah, hundreds of people, primarily protesters, have reportedly been killed, according to activists.

President Joe Biden supported the demonstrators as Iranian authorities commemorated the anniversary of the radical students’ takeover of the American embassy in Tehran, saying: “We’re gonna free Iran. They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.”

Iranian news agencies quoted Raisi as saying to a group of students on Friday, “The Americans and other enemies tried to destabilise Iran by implementing the same plans as in Libya and Syria, but they failed.”

A popular uprising in Libya prompted a NATO intervention in 2011, which resulted in the overthrow and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi by rebel forces. When President Bashar al-opponents Assad’s in Syria faced large-scale protests with force, the country descended into an 11-year-old conflict.

Raisi, on the other hand, declared that Iranian cities were now “safe and sound,” pledging retaliation for the unrest the nation had experienced.

The other side of story

As of Friday, 314 protesters had been killed in the unrest, including 47 minors, according to the activist HRANA news agency. Additionally, 38 members of the security forces had perished. In protests in 136 cities and towns and 134 universities, at least 14,170 people have been detained, including 392 students, the report said.

The worst bloodshed has taken place in Sistan-Baluchistan, a province in southeast Iran that is home to a sizable Sunni Muslim minority.

Senior Sunni cleric Molavi Abdolhamid claimed that Khash, in the country’s southeast, had received a more severe response to Friday’s protests than other parts of the nation.

“Should live ammunition be the response to slogans and stone throwing? One wonders … why protesting people of this province are mercilessly massacred?” the cleric asked in a statement on his website.

Amnesty International estimated that up to 10 people may have died after security forces opened fire on demonstrators who reportedly attacked a government building with stones and threw them.

Economic impact

Iran’s currency has reached new lows as a result of the crisis. According to the foreign exchange website Bonbast.com, the US dollar had dropped nearly 12% in value since the protests began and was trading for 362,100 rials on the black market on Saturday.

The government on Saturday authorised online sales by currency dealers to make it simpler for people to purchase hard currency, ostensibly in an effort to slow the currency’s decline.

TAccording to state media, the Intelligence Ministry said it had frozen the bank accounts of 2,300 people suspected of participating in the currency black market and warned them that they might face legal action.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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