Protestors Challenge Raisi, Khamenei

On Oct. 8, 2022, Iranians launched separate acts of defiance against President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei amid nationwide protests over the death of Mahsa Amini for improper dress. Female students demonstrated during Raisi’s speech at Al Zahra University, a college for women in Tehran. “Get lost,” they chanted. “President is in the university while the students are in prison.” Referring to Raisi’s role in a death commission that sent some 5,000 political prisoners to their death, they cried, “We don’t want a corrupt system, we don’t want a murderer guest.”

Raisi recited a Persian poem that compared “rioters” to flies. The protestors “imagine they can achieve their evil goals in universities,” the president said. “Unbeknownst to them, our students and professors are alert and will not allow the enemy to realize their evil goals.” Iranian leaders often use the vague term “enemy” to refer to Iran’s adversaries at home and abroad, including the United States and Israel.

On the same day, opposition group Edaalate Ali or “Ali’s Justice” reportedly hacked the state television news as it broadcast a speech by Khamenei. The short clip, less than 10 seconds long, included a graphic picture with crosshairs on Khamenei above photos of Amini and three other women – Sarina Esmailzadeh, Hadis Najafi and Nika Shakarami – who were allegedly killed during the government crackdown on protests. The caption read, “Join us and rise up” and “The blood of our youth is dripping from your claws.” The sound of protestors chanting “woman, life, freedom” was heard in the background. The male news anchor looked shocked when the broadcast cut back to the studio. 

Edaalate Ali claimed responsibility on social media. “On the request of people, we fulfilled our promise and did the unthinkable to free Iran,” it boasted. The group had claimed credit for previous hacks. In 2021, the group released video footage and confidential documents exposing prisoner abuse in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison. In 2022, Edaalate Ali leaked incriminating camera footage from Ghezel Heassar prison in Karaj.