Iranian protesters have attacked the ancestral home of the first Supreme Leader and founder of the nation’s current theocracy in the latest bout of fighting between activists and the regime.
The childhood home of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, located in the city of Khomein, which is named after him, was set ablaze, with footage showing dozens of angry protesters attacking the building.
One reporter based in Iran said the significance of such an attack against the “most revered figure in the Islamic Republic” could not be overstated.
Footage showed protesters cheering as the fire broke out in the building where Khomeini was born, and which is now a museum commemorating his life.
It is believed the arson attack was carried out on Thursday night, though the region’s press office has denied the incident took place.
Khomeini was the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, which deposed the country’s pro-Western leader, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and paved the way for the theocratic state that prevails now under his successor Ali Khamenei.
The late Supreme Leader is the face of the Islamic regime against which the Iranian protesters are fighting.
Khomein county’s press office told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that a small number of people had gathered outside the house to celebrate the former leader.
The agency later shared a video of the house, saying it was open to “pilgrims and lovers of the deceased Imam”.
They added: “The doors of the house of the late founder of the great revolution are open to the public.”
But footage released across social media suggests activity around the house was far from peaceful, with the extent of damage caused not yet known.
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The attack comes as a large anti-government protest erupted on Friday at the funeral of a nine-year-old child killed in a shooting that his mother blamed on security forces.
Videos circulating on social media showed hundreds of protesters at the funeral for nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak in the southwestern city of Izeh.
Protests also erupted in the eastern city of Zahedan, which has seen the deadliest violence since the nationwide demonstrations began.
The protests first erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was being held by the country’s morality police.
They rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics and an end to the theocracy established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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Authorities have heavily restricted media access and periodically shut down the internet as they struggle to contain the biggest challenge to their leadership in more than a decade, making it difficult to confirm details of unrest in different parts of the country.
State-run media in Iran reported that seven people were killed and several wounded, including security forces, in a shooting in Izeh on Wednesday. Authorities blamed the attack on “terrorists” without providing further details.
Among the victims was Pirfalak. His mother, Zeinab Molaei, said security forces stopped the family in their car and told them to drive away for their own safety because of a nearby protest. When they turned around, the security forces opened fire on the vehicle, she said, according to the semi official Fars news agency.
Dozens of protesters had gathered in different parts of Izeh around the time of the attack, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them, state-run media reported at the time. Protesters also torched a Shiite religious seminary in Izeh.
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