Widespread anti-government protests continued for a twenty-second day in numerous cities Saturday, including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Bukan, Mahabad, Sanandaj, Saqqez, Javanrood, Kermanshah, Mehrshahr and Karaj.
Footage shared on social media, despite severe internet restrictions, showed Iranians on the streets and chanting anti-government slogans from morning to midnight.
Traders shut up shops
The day started with a rare widespread strike in western Kurdish towns which then expanded to Tehran and Shiraz.
Traders in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, Lalehzar neighbourhood, Sepehsalar Garden, Tajrish Bazaar, Shiraz Bazaar and markets in towns and cities in Kurdistan and Kurdish towns elsewhere went on strike, shuttering their shops and joining the protests instead.
A Tehran resident told IranWire that protesters closed Saadi Street, Lalehzar, and Istanbul squares near the Baharestan area.
Towns in Kurdistan province saw violent clashes between security forces and protesters. Residents in Sanandaj and Saqqez described the situation to IranWire as a “warzone.”
Riot police fired live ammunition at protesters, killing at least two protesters.
Dariush Alizadeh, a young Kurdish man, was shot in the head by officers on 6th Bahman Street in Sanandaj because he was sounding his car horn in support of the protesters. He died on the spot.
Protesters retaliated by giving chase to security forces.
The provincial authorities in Kurdistan tried to prevent the spread of news of the protests by shutting down the internet in several Kurdish cities.
Schoolgirls join demonstrations, are beaten, arrested
Girls across the country joined the nationwide protests Saturday, leading to clashes with teachers and ultimately security forces, who arrested those they suspected of having taken part in demonstrations.
Schoolgirls in Kermanshah refused to return to their classes, instead removing their hijabs and gathering outside their schools, where some videos showed them chanting "Woman, life, freedom," while waving their scarves in the air.
Saqqez, Mahsa Amini’s birthplace in Iranian Kurdistan, was tense, and security forces maintained a heavy presence on the streets. A local source told IranWire that the Amini family house was “practically besieged” by officers. The new wave of public anger flared after Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in police custody on September 16, three days after her arrest for allegedly breaching Iran's strict rules for the hijab.
Students at Esmat Girls' School in the city marched out of the school chanting "Death to the Dictator!" towards the Friday prayers mosque junction in the center of the city, where they were greeted with the widespread honking of car horns. Riot forces started beating teenagers when they refused to go to classrooms and joined protesters on the streets instead.
According to reports received by IranWire from Sanandaj, government forces targeted protesters with tear gas and live ammunition.
Demonstrations began at 10am and quickly spread across the city, erupting in 6th Bahman Street, Vakil street, the Sharifabad neighbourhood, Safari, Ghafoor, Ferdowsi, Hassanabad, and Madar Square. The highway from Sanandaj to Marivan was at one point blocked by protesters.
Tehran brought to a standstill
Hundreds of protesters in the Nazi Abad district in Tehran defied a huge presence of security forces and went out on Saturday evening to chant anti-government slogans.
Central areas of the capital were the scenes of fierce clashes between security forces and demonstrators chanting "Death to the Dictator!" Hundreds of defiant women removed their hijab in the area and stopped traffic.
In Tehran's Saadatabad district, protesters were on the streets at midnight, chanting slogans against the Basij paramilitary forces. Video of the clashes showed more than a dozen security forces beating a young man whose hands were tied behind his back.
“The crowd I saw today was unique. The number of women and girls was very high. They are not afraid of anything. There was a possibility that they would be shot directly,” a resident of Tehran told IranWire. “They [police] were firing live rounds around Saadi metro station.”
The governor of Tehran was forced to admit that the security forces did not have sufficient resources to deal with the growing number of protesters. “Some of the security forces have not been to their homes and have been doing their job for several days in a row,” Mohsen Mansouri said.
Security forces stormed the homes of people who gave shelter to protesters in Karaj, outside Tehran. Gunshots could be heard as police tried to force their way into private residences.
The main square of the western city of Kermanshah was lit by flames on Saturday night. Videos showed plumes of smoke rising from tires protesters had set alight to prevent security forces from reaching the area.
Footage from Isfahan province in central Iran showed riot police chasing protesters, mainly women, and opening fire on them. Protesters could be heard chanting against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Activism enters homes
Meanwhile, Edalat-e Ali, a digital activist group, took the protests into private homes when they hacked the evening news on Iranian state television on Saturday.
They managed to break into a report about Ayatollah Khamenei with their own image of his face, in gun-sight crosshairs and surrounded by flames, above pictures of Mahsa Amini and three other young women killed by security forces.
"The blood of our youths is on your hands," read an on-screen message. Instead of the newsreader, viewers heard chants “Women, life, freedom,” the main rallying cry of protestors on the streets.
In other anti-regime messages, activists spray-painted "Death to Khamenei" and "The Police are the Murderers of the People" on public billboards in Tehran.
In London, Iranian film director Ali Abbasi appeared on the red carpet at the London Film Festival wearing a cleric’s robe and blood-stained vampire teeth in a show of solidarity with the people in Iran.