Massive protests hit Tehran as huge crowds prepare to return tonight

Iran: Protests against the regime continue in Azadi Square

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Iranian protesters have pledged to return in their thousands to Tehran’s central square tonight after mass protests on Wednesday night sparked rumours that the regime would collapse. Footage showed thousands of students and other opposers of the clerical regime shouting “Be afraid, be afraid, we are all together” as they marched through Azadi Square in the capital. Since September 16, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed after being detained by the morality police for not wearing her hijab in accordance with the strict Islamic dress code, Iranian citizens across the nation have been calling for “death to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei” and squaring off with the regime’s brutal security forces. 

The protests on Wednesday night, “organised in secrecy” according to reports from inside Iran, threatened to topple a regime showing few signs of backing down. 

The country’s hardline President, Ebrahim Raisi, who, as a former prosecutor, oversaw the mass execution of dissenters in the 1980s, yesterday blamed “rioters” for all those killed since the protests began. 

Helicopters were seen taking off from within his compound last night as protests swelled, removing several families from inside Khamenei’s house as well. 

British actor and comedian Omid Djalili, who is of Iranian descent, shared a video on Twitter of floods of cars driving towards Azadi Square.

He said: “The movement of millions of Iranians to Tehran’s Azadi Sq. occupying it, settling in tents and the support of the nation to the besieged people will be a big step to end the Khamenei dictatorship.” 

Later in the night, he added that Tehran was “on the verge of collapse”, according to a Basij paramilitary leader, who form part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for cracking down on protesters. 

He wrote: “Leaked: Basij leader there has admitted the possibility of Tehran’s fall tonight is extremely high and that the Presidential palace may be attacked. Khamenei & Raisi told to be transferred to a safe place ASAP.”

This morning, the comedian posted footage of the Azadi tower by the square with what he claimed were snipers seen on top. 

He said the gunmen had been placed there to “disperse the crowds last night”, before adding that activists and “ordinary people inside Iran” plan to “go back tonight”.

During Student Day, which marks the 1953 killing by the shah’s security forces of three students, protests also took place in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Bukan, the country’s second largest city, Mashhad, the northern cities of Rudsar and Qazvin, the central cities of Isfahan and Kerman, the western city of Dareh Shahrt, and Ahvaz in the south-west.

Kurdish Iranian rights group Hengaw also reported that 19 cities had joined the general strike movement in western Iran, where most of the country’s Kurdish population live. 

In Darreh Shahr in western Iran, footage showed locals setting ablaze the city’s so-called “Basij Square”, a monument to the security forces. 

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Reports from this morning show security units have already been dispatched in Arak, central Iran, to prevent further anti-regime protests. 

Iranian civilians are expected to turn out for the 40th day protests since the murder of Mehrshad Shahdi by the regime’s security forces. In Iran, it is customary to come together forty days after the death of a peer to honour them. 

Meanwhile, state-run media outlets reported that Mohsen Shekari, a 22-year-old arrested protester, was hanged at dawn on Thursday morning after a sham trial. The young man was arrested on September 25 for “Moharebeh”, which means waging war against Allah but in this case likely denotes anti-regime sentiments. 

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