A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on October 12, 2022 shows him speaking before members of the Expediency Council in the capital Tehran. Image Credit: AFP

Tehran: Iran has charged more than 100 people in two provinces over the wave of protests triggered by the death in custody last month of Mahsa Amini, the judiciary said Wednesday.

Iran’s Supreme Leader called anti-government protests “scattered riots” designed by the enemy, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday.

“These scattered riots are the passive and clumsy design of the enemy against the great and innovative developments and movements of the Iranian nation,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

Protests erupted across Iran on September 16, when Amini died three days after falling into a coma following her arrest in Tehran by the morality police for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

Police have made hundreds of arrests and prosecutors vowed swift justice for “rioters”.

Tehran province accounted for 60 of the prosecutions while 65 people have been charged over the “recent riots” in the southern province of Hormozgan, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reported.

“Given that the rioters played a central role in the organisation of illegal gatherings, arson and attacks on public and private property, and sowed terror among the population, the prosecutor has carried out swift investigations in these cases,” Hormozgan chief justice Mojtaba Ghahremani told Mizan Online.

On September 25, Iranian media reported that 88 protesters had been arrested in Hormozgan and nearly 1,200 more, 60 of them women, in northern provinces.

“From now on, those who attack people’s lives or property, police, soldiers or urban infrastructure, or who incite or encourage people to riot will be dealt with decisively,” Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi told Mizan Online.

‘Major’ internet disruption

Meanwhile, Iran suffered a “major disruption’’ in internet service on Wednesday amid calls for renewed protests, an advocacy group said.

Calls for protests beginning at noon Wednesday saw a massive deployment of riot police and plainclothes officers throughout Tehran, witnesses said. They also described disruptions affecting their mobile internet services.

NetBlocks, an advocacy group, said that Iran’s internet traffic had dropped to some 25 per cent compared to the peak, even during a working day in which students were in class across the country.

“The incident is likely to further limit the free flow of information amid protests,’’ NetBlocks said.

Despite the disruption, witnesses saw at least one demonstration in Tehran by some 30 women who had removed their headscarves. Passing cars honked in support despite the threats of security forces. Other women simply continued with their day not wearing the hijab in a silent protest, witnesses said.

Videos also purported to show demonstrations Wednesday in Baharestan, just southeast of the city of Isfahan, as well as in the southern city of Shiraz and northern city of Rasht on the Caspian Sea.