TEHRAN: Signaling no let up in two months of anti-regime demonstrations, the protesters have set on fire the ancestral home of Islamic republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The house in the city of Khomein in the western Markazi province was shown ablaze late on Thursday with crowds of jubilant protesters marching past, according to images posted on social media, verified by AFP.
Khomeini is said to have been born at the house in the town of Khomein – from where his surname derives – at the turn of the century.
He became a cleric deeply critical of the US-backed shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, moved into exile and then returned in triumph from France in 1979 to lead the Islamic revolution. Iran’s Tasnim news agency later denied there had been a fire, saying the “door of the historic house is open to visitors”.
“The counter-revolutionary media tries to create turmoil by spreading lies and false information. The burning down of Imam Khomeini’s historic house, a place with spiritual value to Iranians, was one of those lies,” the deputy goveronor of Markazi province, Behnam Nazari, was quoted as saying.
The protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the morality police, pose the biggest challenge from the street to Iran’s leaders since the 1979 revolution.
They were fuelled by anger over the obligatory headscarf for women imposed by Khomeini but have turned into a movement calling for an end to the Islamic republic itself.