By Nathan Morley
The Iranian government has accused the United States of using unrest triggered by the death of a woman in police custody to try to destabilize the Islamic Republic.
The wave of demonstrations sweeping the country has been the largest in Iran since 2019. As it stands, they show no signs of abating.
Women have played a leading role in the protests, waving and setting light to their veils. At least 70 people have been killed, with that number expected to rise.
The protests first erupted on 16 September after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in police detention.
Demonstrations have spread across cities, towns and villages in Iran. It is reported that as many as 1,200 demonstrators have been arrested.
The instability comes as anti-government protests spilled online, with videos of women burning their hijabs being shared globally.
The anger centres on the fate of Mahsa Amini who was arrested for supposedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an improper fashion.
Campaigners say Amini suffered a deadly blow to the head, a claim denied by officials. Police argue that she died of natural causes, but her family believe that she was exposed to beating and torture.
Her death and arrest came amid a government clampdown on women’s rights. Last month, Iran’s hard-line president signed a ruling which expanded penalties for women posting anti-hijab content on the internet.
The unrest in Iran has spilled over internationally. Over the weekend, police clashed with demonstrators trying to reach Iran’s embassies in London and Paris.
Now, Iran’s government is accusing Western nations, especially Washington, of fuelling protester anger. In sharp language, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Iran would respond to “American violations of its sovereignty.”
“Washington is always trying to weaken Iran’s stability and security, although it has been unsuccessful,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement.