SULIMANIYAH, IRAQ (AP) – Anti-government demonstrations erupted on Saturday in several locations across Iran as the most sustained protests in years against a deeply entrenched theocracy entered their fourth week. At least two people were killed.
Marchers chanted anti-government slogans and twirled headscarves in repudiation of coercive religious dress codes. In some areas, merchants shuttered shops in response to a call by activists for a commercial strike or to protect their wares from damage.
Later on Saturday, hackers broke into the evening news on Iran’s state TV for 15 seconds, just as footage of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was being broadcast. The hackers flashed an image of Khamenei surrounded by flames.
A caption read “Join us and stand up!” and “The blood of our youth is dripping from your claws,” a reference to Khamenei.
The protests erupted on September 17, after the burial of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who had died in the custody of Iran’s feared morality police. Amini had been detained for an alleged violation of strict dress codes for women. Since then, protests spread across the country and were met by a fierce crackdown, in which dozens are estimated to have been killed and hundreds arrested.
In the city of Sanandaj in the Kurdish-majority northern region, one man was shot dead on Saturday while driving a car in a major thoroughfare, rights monitors said. The France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network and the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, said the man was shot after honking at security forces stationed on the street.
Honking has become one of the ways activists have been expressing civil disobedience. Video circulating online showed the slain man slumped over the steering wheel, as distraught witnesses shouted for help.
The semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the elite paramilitary force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, said Kurdistan’s police chief denied reports of using live rounds against protesters.
Fars claimed that people in Sanandaj’s Pasdaran Street said the victim was shot from inside the car without elaborating.
But photos of the dead man indicate that he was shot from his left side, meaning he likely was not shot from inside the car. The blood can be seen running down the inside of the door on the driver’s side.
A second protester was killed after security forces fired gunshots to disperse crowds in the city and 10 protesters were wounded, the rights monitors said.