By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI, Sept 30 (Reuters) - An influential Iranian cleric called for tough action on Friday against protesters enraged by the death of a young woman in police custody who have called for the downfall of ruling clerics.
"Our security is our distinctive privilege. The Iranian people demand the harshest punishment for these barbaric rioters," said Imam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari, a leader of prayers that are held on Fridays in Tehran before a large gathering.
"The people want the death of Mahsa Amini to be cleared up ... so that enemies cannot take advantage of this incident."
Amini, a 22-year-old from the Iranian Kurdish town of Saqez, was arrested this month in Tehran for "unsuitable attire" by the morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women.
Her death has sparked the first big show of opposition on Iran's streets since authorities crushed protests against a rise in gasoline prices in 2019.
Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday that the government crackdown on demonstrations has so far led to the death of at least 52 people, with hundreds injured.
Amnesty said it had obtained a copy of an official document that records that the General Headquarters of Armed Forces issued an order to commanders in all provinces to “severely confront” protesters described as “troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries”.
Despite the growing death toll and a fierce crackdown by authorities, videos posted on Twitter showed demonstrators calling for the fall of the clerical establishment.
Amini's death and the crackdown has drawn international criticism of Iran.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Wednesday that the death of Amini had "saddened" everyone in the Islamic Republic, but warned that "chaos" would not be accepted amid spreading protests.
(Writing by Michael Georgy Editing by Frances Kerry)
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