Iranian activists say protesters have torched the ancestral home of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the latest in a string of taboo-breaking protests sweeping the country.
Activists posted video clips on social media showing a firebolt hitting a building with arches resembling archival images of Khomeini’s home. Reuters and Agence France-Presse have verified the location but not the timing of the images. NBC News has not verified the video.
However, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency denied that Khomeini’s house, which has been turned into a museum, was set on fire and said it was open to the public.
“The doors of the home of the late founder of the great revolution are open to the public,” the agency said.
Opposition group 1500tasvir reported that the fire was set Thursday night amid protests in Khomein, where the late leader’s home is located.
Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, which overthrew the country’s pro-Western monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and established a theocratic state that gave ultimate political authority to the Shia clergy. He served as the country’s first supreme leader and died in 1989.
Khomeini’s image and name still permeate public space in Iran. But in protests now sweeping the country, Iranians have removed his name from street signs, burned posters with his picture and called for the end of the regime.
The protests erupted in September after a 22-year-old Iranian from the country’s Kurdish region, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly failing to adhere to a strict dress code by which women shave their hair must cover form their bodies.
Targeting symbols of the regime, women protesters who have been at the forefront of the demonstrations have marched bareheaded or burned them in front of cheering crowds, flouting the regime’s entrenched dress code for women imposed after the 1979 revolution .
Protests continued across the country on Friday as funerals were held for young Iranians activists say were killed by security forces, according to human rights groups.
Crowds gathered in the southwestern city of Izeh for the funeral of nine-year-old boy Kian Pirfalak. His family says he was killed by police, but Iranian authorities denied this, saying the boy was shot dead by terrorists.
Overseas-based human rights groups say more than 300 Iranians have been killed in the protests.
In solidarity with the protests, many business owners have closed their shops in bazaars and shopping districts in several cities including Tehran, Mashad, Isfahan and Shiraz this week, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.
Iranian leaders have blamed foreign enemies for the protests, which they describe as “riots,” citing Saudi Arabia and the US