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Iranian government denies losing control in face of anti-veil protests

Heavy waves of demonstrations flood Iran after young woman killed for not wearing veil
PHOTO/ MONA HOOBEHFEKR/AFP Una mujer asiste a una vigilia con velas, en memoria de las víctimas del Boeing 737 de Ukraine International Airlines, en Teherán el 11 de enero de 2020

PHOTO/ MONA HOOBEHFEKR/AFP  -  

Iranian judicial authorities denied on Saturday that the city of Oshnavieh had fallen to "rioters" protesting over the case of young Mahsa Amini - who died after being arrested for not wearing the Islamic veil properly - in demonstrations in which 35 people have already died.

"The city is completely under the control of the police forces and the situation is completely normal," the judiciary's Mizan news agency reported. Mizan also denied that protesters had attacked the Oshnavieh prison, located in eastern Iran and bordering Iraq, and released prisoners. In recent days there have been heavy clashes in Oshnavieh, including attacks on "three headquarters of the Basijis" (Islamic volunteers).

The Fars news agency reported that last night 500 armed "rioters" set fire to two banks and a shop in Oshnavieh. They even took control of a mosque, from which they broadcast "hymns of terrorist groups", according to Fars, which is close to the Revolutionary Guard. "Today everything is calm and schools have opened in Oshnavieh," Fars said.

Iran has been experiencing protests over Amini's death for the past eight days, which have spread across the country and provoked fierce clashes with the authorities. Iranian state television reported that 35 people have been killed in the protests, including members of the security forces. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that "decisive action must be taken against those who oppose the security and tranquillity of the country".

Amini was arrested on Tuesday last week by the so-called Morality Police in Tehran, where she was visiting, and was taken to a police station for "one hour of re-education" for wearing the veil incorrectly. She died three days later in a hospital where she arrived in a coma after suffering a heart attack, which the authorities have attributed to health problems, a claim denied by the family. His death has galvanised thousands of Iranians through grief and empathy, unlike on other occasions when demonstrations were reduced to fragmented social groups mobilised by economics.