Torching of Ayatollahs house proves Iran is in grip of ‘revolution’

Iran protesters set fire to former Supreme Leader's house

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Iran is now in the grip of a full-scale revolution after the torching of the ancestral home of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the cleric who founded the Islamic Republic in 1979, an Iranian-American campaigner has said. Dr Majid Sadeghpour was commenting after images posted on social media appeared to show protesters setting fire to the house, now a museum which commemorates the life of the religious leader – although the semi-official news agency Tasnim subsequently quoted a government source as denying the building has been targeted.

Iran has been the scene of widespread demonstrations ever since 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini was beaten to death by the country’s morality police on September 16 for not wearing a hijab or head covering.

Dr Sadeghpour last week spoke at a Congressional Briefing in Washington on Friday aimed at bolstering support for campaigners such as himself who are fighting for a democratic Iranian republic.

Commenting on the incredible pictures, Dr Sadeghpour, political director of the Organisation of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), told Express.co.uk: “The embers of 40 plus years of pent-up anger against religious fascism and single party rule of the clerics have irrevocably ignited.

“We are witnessing the process of an inferno that will not only burn the ancestral home of the regime’s founder but that of Khamenei and the entirety of the regime they represent.”

He added: “To quote Rep. Brad Sherman a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who spoke at our briefing, ‘These brave activists have repeated the call daily in the streets. This is not a protest. This is a revolution’.”

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) estimates at least 58 children, some as young as eight, have been killed in the last two months, including Sarina Esmailzadeh and Nika Shakarami, both aged 16. In total, HRA says at least 388 people have been killed and more than 16,000 arrested.

The strength of feeling gripping the nation was starkly illustrated on Friday when fresh protests erupted at at the funeral of a child killed in a shooting that his mother blamed on security forces. 

Videos circulating on social media showed hundreds of protesters at the funeral for nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak in the southwestern city of Izeh. Protests also erupted in the eastern city of Zahedan, which has seen the deadliest violence since the nationwide demonstrations began.

Authorities have heavily restricted media access and periodically shut down the internet as they struggle to contain the biggest challenge to their leadership in more than a decade, making it difficult to confirm details of unrest in different parts of the country.

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State-run media in Iran reported that seven people were killed and several wounded, including security forces, in a shooting in Izeh on Wednesday. Authorities blamed the attack on “terrorists” without providing further details.

Among the victims was Kian, whose mother, Zeinab Molaei, said security forces stopped the family in their car and told them to drive away for their own safety because of a nearby protest. When they turned around, the security forces opened fire on the vehicle, she said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

State media had initially said a young girl was killed, but later amended those reports. Fars said 11 people have been arrested in connection to the shooting in Izeh, which Iranian officials say is under investigation.

Dozens of protesters had gathered in different parts of Izeh around the time of the attack, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them, state-run media reported at the time. Protesters also set fire to a Shiite religious seminary in Izeh.

Violence has erupted around some of the protests as security forces have clamped down on dissent. Iran has also seen a number of recent attacks blamed on separatists and religious extremists, including a shooting at a major Shiite shrine last month that killed over a dozen people and was claimed by the Islamic State group.

An intelligence officer from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was killed Friday during a violent demonstration in Sahneh, a Kurdish area in western Iran, Tasnim reported. It identified the deceased as Col. Nader Beirami and said the assailants were arrested.

Iranian officials have sought to link the attacks to the protests and blame all the unrest on hostile foreign actors, without providing evidence. The protesters say they are fed up after decades of repression by a clerical establishment that they view as corrupt and dictatorial.

Ayatollah Khomeini was swept to power after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, dying ten years later at the age of 89, during which time he was the nation’s Supreme Leader.

He was replaced by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who remains the nation’s religious leader to this day. The country’s President is Ebrahim Raisi.

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