Protesters in Iran set fire to the family home of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as two months of anti-regime demonstrations continued.
The house in Khomein town in western Markazi province was on fire late Thursday with crowds of cheering protesters marching past, according to social media images verified by AFP.
Khomeini is said to have been born around the turn of the century in the house in the town of Khomein – from which his last name comes.
He became a cleric highly critical of the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, went into exile and triumphantly returned from France in 1979 to lead the Islamic revolution.
Khomeini died in 1989, but remains the object of admiration by the ecclesiastical leadership under his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The house was later turned into a museum commemorating Khomeini. It was not immediately clear what damage it had sustained.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency later denied there had been a fire, saying the “door of the historic house is open to visitors”.
“The counter-revolutionary media tries to sow unrest by spreading lies and false information. Burning down the historic home of Imam Khomeini, a place of spiritual value to Iranians, was one of those lies,” said Markazi province deputy governor Behnam Nazari.
Protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by vice squads, represent the biggest street challenge for Iran’s leadership since the 1979 revolution.
They were sparked by anger over Khomeini’s mandatory headscarf for women, but have evolved into a movement calling for an end to the Islamic republic itself.
Images of Khomeini have occasionally been set on fire or defaced by protesters, in taboo-breaking moves against a figure whose death is still marked every June with a holiday of mourning.
On Friday, mourners at the funeral of a young boy whose family had been killed by Iranian security forces chanted anti-regime slogans and ridiculed the official account of his death.
Hundreds of mourners flocked to the city of Izeh in southwestern Iran for Kian Pirfalak’s funeral, according to images posted online.
His mother said at the funeral ceremony that Kian was shot by security forces on Wednesday, though Iranian officials insisted he was killed in a “terrorist” attack by an extremist group.
“Hear for yourself from me how the shooting happened so they can’t say it was by terrorists because they are lying,” his mother told mourners, according to a video released by the Twitter account of 1500tasvir activist. “Maybe they thought we were about to shoot or something and they shot the car through with bullets… plainclothes officers shot my kid. That is it.”