Protests rage in Iran's southeast, amid crackdown call

A newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by Iranian morality police is seen in Tehran, Iran, September 18, 2022. [Majid Asgaripour | WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters]

Protests broke out in restive southeastern Iran on Friday, with demonstrators attacking banks, state media reported, as a senior hardline cleric called for tough measures against demonstrators across the country.

The Islamic Republic has been gripped by five weeks of demonstrations that erupted after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month.

On Friday, police arrested at least 57 people, described as "rioters", after protesters threw rocks and attacked banks in the city of Zahedan, provincial police chief Ahmad Taheri was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

Iranian cleric Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Khatami delivers a sermon during the Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, November 22, 2019. [Nazanin Tabatabaee | WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters]

State television said up to 300 protesters marched in the city after Friday prayers. It showed banks and shops with smashed windows.

Videos posted on social media purported to show thousands of protesters chanting "Death to the dictator", a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and "Death to Basijis", in reference to the Basij militia which has been widely used to crack down on protests. Reuters could not verify the videos.

Zahedan is the capital of res