Tens of thousands attend freedom rally for Iran in Richmond Hill

Thousands took over the streets of Richmond Hill Saturday, protesting the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while calling on the Canadian government to do more.

A massive rally was held Saturday in Richmond Hill in support of ongoing protests in Iran.

The crowds, which York Regional Police estimate at more than 50,000, gathered near the Richmond Hill Central Library for a freedom rally in a show of solidarity with protesters in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini. She died in custody on Sept. 16 after she was accused of improperly wearing a head scarf by Iran’s morality police.

Her family says they were told she was beaten to death in custody. Police say the 22-year-old Amini died of a heart attack and deny mistreating her. Iranian officials say her death is under investigation.

Iranian-Canadians for Justice and Human Rights organized the rally, one of more than 100 held across Canada and around the world.

Protesters gather at Richmond Hill Central Library

Thousands of demonstrators gathered around Richmond Hill Public Library Central branch for a rally in support of Iran. (Photo courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)

Amini’s death has triggered an outpouring of anger at Iran’s ruling clerics with protesters calling for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran has claimed that the daily protests that have swept the country for the past two weeks were instigated by foreigners. Protesters have denied such claims, portraying their actions as a spontaneous uprising against the country’s strict dress code, including the compulsory hijab for women in public.

Iran has detained individual foreigners in the past, often on claims that they were spies while not providing evidence. Critics have denounced the practice as an attempt by Iran to use detained foreigners as bargaining chips for concessions from the international community.

Scattered protests involving dozens of demonstrators took place Saturday around a university in downtown Tehran. Riot police dispersed the protesters, who chanted “death to dictator.” Some witnesses said police fired teargas.

Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17.

Files from The Associated Press were used in this report

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