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Iran judiciary calls for end to protests

Iran’s judiciary chief is the latest official to call for an end to protests. 
President Ebrahim Raisi (R) kisses the Koran in the presence of Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie.

The latest Iranian official to call for an end to the protests in Iran is Judiciary Chief Justice Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei. 

During a speech today amongst judiciary officials, Mohseni Ejei referred to the protests as “riots” and said that those who support them “claiming to support the people of Iran” are also those who fund terrorists behind such attacks as the one on the shrine in Shiraz last Wednesday that killed at least 13 people. He asked rhetorically, “Who trains them, who arms them, who creates their fraudulent papers?” 

Today, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced it has arrested 7 people in connection with the attack, including one person who allegedly acted as an accomplice of the shooter. Islamic State claimed credit for the attack. Iran has long accused Western countries of supporting terrorist groups who primarily carry out attacks in countries Iran is allied with, such as Iraq and Syria. 

Mohseni Ejei focused the other part of his speech on the protests. He said that the government so far has “shown restraint” in dealing with the protests so that individuals can distinguish themselves from the “rioters.” He continued that some individuals might have protests and complaints but did not want to confront the government and create danger for the people. 

“The government has given them [time] to distinguish themselves. Even amongst the rioters, some may not want to confront the government and pursue regime change.” He said that judiciary officials are working to distinguish which protestors belong to which group," he said.

Iran is nearly two months into protests that have rocked the country. The protests began when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of the so-called morality police after being detained for wearing a loose hijab. The protests, while centered on women’s rights, have been anti-government protests from day one. 

Mohseni Ejei refers to the protestors as rioters, primarily due to the beginning of protests when trash cans were set on fire. Today, the protests are taking place in universities and are predominantly peaceful. The chants also predominantly call for an end to the Islamic Republic as whole. While officials can call for an end to protests, the students gathering at universities and chanting anti-government slogans are nearly impossible to stop without closing universities altogether, which would be a drastic move and have many other repercussions.  

Videos have surfaced of intelligence and plain clothes officials apprehending university students. However, the arrests have led to more protests calling for their release and have not resulted in creating enough fear for students to stay home or not participate in more protests. Many videos have also surfaced of students breaking down the barriers separating the sexes in cafeteria halls.

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