Videos and images of Iranian forces shooting live ammunition in the air to scare off thousands of Arab Ahwaz protesters have been widely circulated on social media as protesters continue for the second day.
According to an Ahwaz human rights group, no injuries have been reported yet, however videos on social media show Iranian forces shooting live ammunition extensively in the air and running young protesters toward downtown Ahwaz to corner them and scare them off.
Another video shared by activists showed Iranian forces arresting several protesters as random shots being fired.
Activists have also confirmed that Iranian authorities have blocked the social media platform Telegram in order to limit the protests.
Thousands have already gathered in the city of Ahwaz southwest of Iran with videos showing about 5,000 protesters, including women, chanting popular Ahwaz slogans like “With our soul and blood, we will protect you Ahwaz”.
The protests were sparked by a children’s television show aired on the country’s national channel on Iran’s New Year’s Day, Nooroz, including a segment that completely ignored the Arab origins of the city which is mostly Arab-populated.
Activists are saying that the government is purposely propagating a discriminatory agenda against the Arabs of Ahwaz, and is continuing its plan to change the demographic of the city and ignore the Arab identity there.
The city, fully characterized to be Arab in terms of population, geography, culture, language and history out of all other regions of Iran, has seen a call for protests on social media through the hashtag “I am Arab”.
Protesters criticized the Iranian Radio and Television Corporation, which is under the direct supervision of Ali Khamenei, demanding accountability of those involved and an official apology for Arab people in Ahwaz.
Following forced separation of protests in some streets, thousands of people gathered in the old souk of the city on Thursday.