Iranian state-organized marchers call for execution of protesters:
A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022. WANA via REUTERS
On Friday, several Iranian cities held state-organized rallies to counter nationwide anti-government unrest. The crowds condemned the anti-government protesters as "Israel's soldiers" and chanted "Offenders of the Koran must be executed." These marches followed a strong warning from authorities with the army saying it would confront "the enemies" behind the unrest, which may signal a crackdown on the protests. The anti-government unrest was caused by Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old woman, dying in police custody after being arrested for wearing clothing deemed “unsuitable.” State TV said 35 people had been killed in the unrest, but analysts find it unlikely to immediately threaten the clerical rulers of Iran. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in New York on Thursday and raised human rights issues, a United Nations spokesperson said.
Italy elections: Who's who and how the vote works:
Giorgia Meloni is seeking to form a right-wing government with two other parties | Getty Images
As Italy approaches its elections, Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party is leading the polls and looking to form a right-wing government. In the last general election four years ago, her party attracted roughly 4% of the vote, but now she's in position to win a possible quarter of the vote. Backed by two other parties, the League and Forza Italia, polls suggest Meloni will head a majority coalition in Italy's two houses of parliament. This owes to her being the only major party leader who refused to join popular technocrat Mario Draghi's broad-based coalition, leaving her as a strong opposition candidate after its collapse in July. Her alliance wants to renegotiate Italy's massive EU COVID-19 recovery plan and have Italy's president elected by popular vote, which will require a two-thirds majority vote by parliament. Her losing will require a big showing from the likely runner-up - the center-left Democratic Party (PD) of Enrico Letta. He hoped to form a rival alliance with smaller parties, but this suffered a blow when the centrist pro-European Azione (Action) party pulled out due to being unwilling to cooperate with two of his other partners, the Italian Left and Green Europe. The winning alliance will need to win a majority of Italians’ votes to hold both houses of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and Senate.
Separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas to hold votes on joining Russia:
A military vehicle drives along a street with a billboard that reads: "With Russia forever, September 27", prior to a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/File)
On Tuesday, the Russian state-news agency Tass reported that Russian-backed separatists in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) will hold referendums from September 23-27 on joining Russia. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded by tweeting “Sham referendums will not change anything … Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.” This comes as Ukrainian forces are pushing Russian troops back eastern Ukraine. Officials in the Russian-controlled southern Kherson region on Tuesday also requested a referendum on joining Russia. In a post on Telegram, Volodymyr Saldo, the Russian-appointed head of Kherson, said he hoped the region would become “a part of Russia, a fully fledged subject of a united country,” Reuters reported.