Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned his citizens not to protest on Saturday, which will be the first anniversary of the murder of Mahsa Amini, who was beaten to death in police custody after she was arrested for not wearing her hijab correctly.
Speaking with NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt on Tuesday night, Raisai warned: “Those who intend to abuse Mahsa Amini’s name, under this pretext to be an agent of foreigners, to create this instability in the country, we know what will happen to them.”
Widespread protests against the regime and in favor of women's rights gripped Iran following Amini's death. The Iranian government cracked down hard on the protests, killing nearly 500 demonstrators.
He called Amini's death a mere "incident" and said that the protestors who took to the streets of Iran following the murder of Amini "know that endangering the security of people and security of society will create a big cost” for them.
Raisi called the women's rights movement which came to prominence in Iran following Amini's death “a project against the Islamic Republic of Iran" by Western nations, and claimed that similar deaths "happen every day in the US and in the European cities. The Islamic Republic of Iran responded swiftly and followed the issue.”
"It was a hybrid war and a cognitive war. It was a political war. It was an economic war, a media war, and a psychological war against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he claimed.
Raisi was also asked about the prisoner exchange deal reached with the US government in which the US agreed to free up$6 billion in frozen Iranian assets. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken provided assurances that this money could only be spent on humanitarian purposes. Raisi poured cold water on these assurances, however, by expanding the definition of humanitarian in a vague manner to whatever the Iranian government decides.
“Humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people needs, so this money will be budgeted for those needs, and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government," the Iranian president said.