NEW YORK (Associated Press) – Iran’s president said Thursday that the death of an Iranian woman in the custody of the country’s morality police must be investigated “consistently,” even as he turned the tables on the country he was visiting for the United Nations General Assembly. Question: What about all those killed by the American police?
“Have all of these deaths been investigated?” Ibrahim Raisi said at a press conference held in New York on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders. He regretted what he said were “double standards” in the West with regard to human rights.
And about the killing of Mahsa Amini, which led to clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, he said that the authorities are doing what needs to be done.
“It should definitely be investigated,” he said. “I called her family at the first opportunity and assured them that we would continue to steadfastly investigate this incident. … Our main concern is to protect the rights of every citizen.”
Clashes between Iranian security forces and angry protesters have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to Thursday’s tally for the Associated Press. Iranian police say Amini, who was detained for breaching the morality police’s strict dress code, died of a heart attack and was not mistreated. Her family questioned this account.
The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities continue to grapple with social repression and the country’s escalating crises – with security and paramilitary forces.
Raisi, who formally addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, noted that bad things are happening to people at the hands of authorities everywhere.
What about Americans dying at the hands of American law enforcement? He asked about his country’s rival nation, also referring to the deaths of women in Britain which he said had not been investigated. He called for “the same standard” around the world in dealing with such deaths at the hands of the authorities.
Raisi’s comparison reflects the common approach of Iranian leaders, who, when faced with accusations of rights abuses, often point to Western society and its “hegemony” and demand that those countries be held accountable in kind. However, neither the United States nor Britain has a moral police that is given power over citizens.
Raisi, who led the country’s judiciary before becoming president, said the investigation into Amini’s death ultimately remains there. While elections and open debate are taking place in Iran, the upper echelons of government are closely bound by the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in major state affairs and appoints the head of the judiciary.
The protests in the past five days have developed into an open challenge to the government, with women taking off state-imposed veils and burning them in the streets, and Iranians calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic itself. They are the most serious demonstrations since 2019, when protests erupted over the government’s hike in gasoline prices.
While he did not explicitly condemn the protests, he appeared to stand by the deadly response to the one that killed some protesters.
“What is happening, the presence of demonstrations … of course these are completely normal and acceptable,” he said. We must differentiate between protesters and vandalism. Demonstrations are good for expressing specific issues.”
He added, “There is controversy in Iran.”
The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outburst over the killing of Amini, whose death was condemned by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
The US government has imposed sanctions on the morality police and leaders of other Iranian security services, saying they “routinely use violence to suppress peaceful protesters.”
Iranian police say Amini died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family disputed this account. Independent experts of the United Nations said Thursday that reports indicate that she was severely beaten by the morality police, without providing evidence.
Aya Elbatrawy, an Associated Press journalist based in Dubai, is on assignment covering the work of the United Nations General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at For more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, visit
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