Iran: crowds cheer as Ayatollah Khomeini's ancestral home burns

Videos show flames in house of late founder of Islamic Republic as protesters chant outside

Images of Iran's late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini are projected on to the Azadi Tower in Tehran. A fire was reported at his former home in Khomein. AFP
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Crowds cheered while a fire burned in the ancestral home of the former Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Thursday night as anger at the government showed no sign of waning after two months of protests.

Videos posted on social media and verified by several news agencies showed people shouting "Mullahs, get lost!" as they marched near the burning building in the city of Khomein.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency denied claims the building was set alight, saying crowds had only gathered in front of the late leader's home.

Exiled Iranian activist Masih Alinejad shared footage of protesters in the town and praised demonstrators who took to the streets.

Traditionally conservative towns and cities in Iran have not stayed silent as demonstrations continue across the country, sparked by the custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in the custody of the morality police, and fuelled by the killing of hundreds of people in subsequent protests.

In the holy city of Qom, protesters set fire to the Shia seminary in what some have called the ultimate act of defiance against the "powerhouse" of the Iran.

Rights groups say at least 342 people have been killed, including 26 children, since the wave of protests began in mid-September.

The nationwide demonstrations, in which women have played a leading role, pose the biggest challenge yet to the theocratic regime established by Khomeini after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Protesters have often targeted symbols of the ruling elite, including police stations, governor's offices and statues of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor, despite the violent crackdown. Several protesters have already been sentenced to death.

'Stone-hearted' leader

Kian Pirfalak, a young boy said to have been nine or 10, has become the latest face of the movement after being shot dead in the south-western town of Izeh on Wednesday.

His mother and uncle denied officials' claims that he was killed in a terrorist attack, saying security forces opened fire on the car in which the boy was travelling with his family. His father was also injured.

A 14-year-old was also reported dead in Izeh on the same night.

Kian's death has prompted renewed outrage. Social media users shared videos of the young boy showcasing his home-made inventions, while lamenting that his dreams of becoming an inventor were cut short.

Large crowds gathered at his funeral on Friday, where mourners chanted against the regime, equating Iran's security forces to ISIS and calling for "death to Khamenei".

In videos shared online, his mother recited a poem describing Iran's supreme leader as "stone-hearted".

Protests have also been reported in several other cities across the country.

In the northern city of Gilan, doctors were reportedly beaten for tending to injured protesters.

Updated: November 18, 2022, 2:09 PM
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