President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday hailed Iran's “Islamic Republic” as a guarantor of rights and freedoms, defending the ruling system amid a crackdown on anti-government protests that the United Nations says has cost more than 300 lives.
A top state security body meanwhile said that 200 people, including members of the security forces, had lost their lives in the unrest, a figure significantly lower than that given by the world body and rights groups.
The protests, in their third month, were ignited by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police enforcing strict mandatory hijab rules.
“Iran has the most progressive constitution in the world” because it marries “ideals with democracy,” Raisi said in a speech to parliamentarians, quoting an unidentified African lawyer he said he met several years ago.
“The constitution guarantees the (existence) of the Islamic system,” he said, adding that it also “guarantees fundamental rights and legitimate freedoms.”
The judiciary's Mizan news agency quoted the interior ministry's state security council as saying 200 people lost their lives in the recent "riots".
Amirali Hajizadeh, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander was quoted as saying on Monday that 300 people, including security force members, had been killed in the recent unrest.
Javaid Rehman, a UN-appointed independent expert on Iran, said on Tuesday that more than 300 people had been killed in the protests, including more than 40 children.
Rights group HRANA said that as of Friday 469 protesters had been killed, including 64 minors. It said 61 government security forces had also been killed. As many as 18,210 protesters are believed to have been arrested.