Iran: Protesters remove head of statue of late leader Ayatollah Khomeini

Iran: Protesters remove head of statue of late leader Ayatollah Khomeini
Protesters in Iran on Friday climbed onto a statue of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, and ripped off his head, as seen in video footage shared online.
2 min read
15 October, 2022
Ayatollah Khomeini led the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, which toppled the Shah [source: Getty]

Iranian protesters decapitated a statue of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in northeastern Iran on Friday night, as widespread anti-government demonstrations continue following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini. 

Hooded men climbed onto the statue of the first leader of the Islamic Republic in Neyshabur and ripped off its head, as seen in a video shared by Iranian opposition news website Iran Wire. The unidentified protesters were then filmed running away while cheers and shouts were heard among the crowd. 

Following the death of 22-year-old Amini, who was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly last month, thousands in Iran have taken to the streets to condemn the Iranian government and its imposition of strict interpretations of Islamic law.

Initial demands for accountability over Amini’s death have morphed into a direct challenge to the clerical system of government.

It is not clear what happened to the protesters after this video was taken. 

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was a Shia jurist who lived in exile for decades in Turkey, Iraq and France due to his opposition to the pro-Western dictatorship of Shah Mohamad Reza Pahlavi.

He emerged as Iran's leader following the 1979 revolution, founding the current Islamic republic. He died in 1989.

For over 40  years, Iranians have lived in a society governed by Khoeimini's highly conservative and traditionalist interpretations of Islam. 

Today's protesters - who are predominantly young people - are demanding an end to the control and suppression imposed by the clerically run state, such as strict codes on women's clothing. 

Despite the use of disproportionate force and live ammunition by security forces, they have remained defiant and are continuing protests.

The city where protesters beheaded Khomeini’s statue was the birth place of the famous Iranian poet and philosopher Omar Khayyam.