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Students in Iran continue to defy police crackdown and demonstrate against government

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By Euronews  with AP
Protest over Iran unrest
Protest over Iran unrest   -   Copyright  Richard Vogel/AP Photo   -  

Students in Iran continued to defy the government and security forces on Tuesday, by protesting for more social freedoms in the aftermath of the death of a young Iranian woman in September. 

Twenty-two-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by Iran's so-called morality police for allegedly wearing her mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely. She died in hospital several days after being released from police custody.

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi tried to relieve anger against the country's theocratic regime, as anti-government protests spread to universities and high schools.

Iran’s security forces have sought to disperse demonstrations with tear gas, metal pellets, and in some cases live fire, human rights groups say. Iran’s state TV reports that violent confrontations between protesters and the police have killed at least 41 people, but human rights groups say the number is much higher.

An escalating crackdown on the press, with dozens of journalists arrested in the last few weeks, has stifled most independent reporting on sensitive issues such as the deaths of protesters.

The recent disappearance and death of a 17-year-old girl in Tehran, however, has unleashed a renewed outpouring of anger on Iranian social media.

Human rights expert Hadi Ghaemi told Euronews that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's decision to blame the US and Israel for masterminding the protests was devoid of logic.

"To call them agents of Israel and America was a very tired rationale that Iran's supreme leader has used to justify his brutal rules, so many people thought it's really the last words of a dictator who refuses to acknowledge reality and wants to relate everything to a foreign-based enemy," Ghaemi, Director of Center for Human Rights in Iran said.

There has been criticism of the US and the EU’s response to the Iran crisis. Ghaemi believes both powers are being too passive in addressing the repression of protests, which have left dozens of people dead.

"Europe and US have been very timid in reacting to the events unfolding. And it's clear to me that they're trying to gain a political point for their own purposes in the negotiations, toward a nuclear deal, which has been stalled. Let's remember for nearly two years. There is no rush to sign that deal right now. And give legitimacy to the Islamic Republic," Ghaemi said.

Officially, at least 1,500 people have been arrested since protests erupted on 16 September.

Among those was Shervin Hajipour, a composer and singer of a song in support of the protests that became an anthem for the demonstrators. He was released on probation on Tuesday.