As protests have continued in many Iranian cities over the past few weeks, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday that no one should dare think they can uproot the Islamic Republic.
Demonstrations by people from all walks of life over the Iranian Kurdish woman’s case have evolved into widespread calls for the downfall of Khamenei and for “Death to the Islamic Republic”.
The protests mark one of the boldest challenges to clerical rule since the 1979 revolution, even if the unrest does not seem close to toppling the system.
Khamenei compared the Islamic Republic to an unshakeable tree. “That seedling is a mighty tree now and no one should dare think they can uproot it,” he said in remarks shown on state TV.
According to Reuters report, the Iranian police deployed heavily on Friday in a predominantly ethnic Arab city after activists called for protests, a witness said, as the unrest showed no sign of abating.
Some of the deadliest unrest has been in areas home to ethnic minorities with long-standing grievances against the state, including Kurds in the northwest and Baluchis in the southeast.
According to rights groups, more than 200 people have been killed in the crackdown, including teenage girls.