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Iran Exploits US Campus Protests To Gain Political Leverage

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As support rallies for Palestine expand across US universities, Iran has orchestrated its own university protests echoing the regime’s sentiments against Israel and the US.

The semi-official ISNA news agency reported that amid the ongoing Gaza war, “Iranian students and professors conducted rallies across Iran’s universities, showing support for their Western counterparts and condemning the harsh responses of American police.”

Images from the limited gatherings at universities such as Amirkabir, Science and Technology in Tehran, and others in Qom, Kermanshah, and Tabriz were circulated by local media.

The rallies used slogans typically employed by student movements and protests against the Iranian government, which Iranian state media has co-opted in describing the US events in a bid to propagandize the support for the thousands of civilians who have died in Gaza amid the war sparked by the Iran-backed Hamas invasion of October 7.

Around 1,200 mostly civilians were murdered and Israel’s retaliation has, according to Hamas, seen the deaths of over 33,000 in Gaza.

The move is seen as an attempt to equate the US protests with those protesting the government in Iran, where government responses have been significantly more violent.

Protests have taken place in at least 18 universities in the US, leading to clashes with police and the disruption of classes.

Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, has labeled the protests at American universities as a “nationwide uprising”, a term widely used in Iran in 2022 after the state killing of Mahsa Amini. She was killed while in morality police custody after her arrest for alleged hijab violations.

Fars News Agency, under the headline “University is not a barracks”, claimed that snipers were positioned at Ohio University, and police arrested 500 students during the “nationwide protests”.

The narrative comes amid harsh criticism of Iran’s own handling of protests. The Bloody Friday in Zahedan on September 30, 2022, is one of the most infamous examples, where direct government gunfire killed at least 100 people, including children.