Protests in southwestern Iran that started Sunday evening because of a local poet’s death in hospital, continued Monday during his funeral services.
Hassan Haydary (Heydary) a dissident ethnic Arab poet died in Ahvaz, the capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan province. He was renowned among the region’s Arab population for his fiery poems demanding identity recognition for his kinsmen.
However, many local Arabs regarded his death as suspicious and poured into the streets to mourn and protest. Local officials insisted early Monday that people were simply showing their emotions and were not protesting against the government.
But videos circulating on social media Monday showed thousands of people in the Kut Abdollah part of Ahvaz demonstrating, although part of the outpouring of emotion could be related to the funeral of Haydari. It is generally difficult to authenticate videos and certain details remain unclear.
In one video protesters are seen pulling down flags of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
There has been tension between Arabs in Khuzestan and the central government. Many demand recognition for their ethnic identity and language, while a minority even espouse separatism.
Most of Iran's oil in Khuzestan, while locals residents complain that they receive little investments and improvement in their province.
Videos also showed clashes between security forces and demonstrators. In one video tweeted Monday, November 11 sounds of gunfire is heard.
Haydari who was in his twenties, was arrested last year but later freed on bail. It is not clear why he was hospitalized and what was the exact cause of his death.