A protester holds a gallows rope during a rally in Lyon to pay tribute to Mohammad Moradi, an Iranian student who jumped into a river last month, and drowned, in an attempt to draw attention to the situation in Iran.—AFP

Some 1,000 people rallied in the French city of Lyon on Sunday in support of unprecedented anti-regime protests in Iran, journalists saw.

The protesters walked through the streets of the eastern city carrying a banner that read “Woman, life, freedom” and chanting the words, which have become the slogan of the protests.

Demonstrations in Iran began after the September 16 death in custody of Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini, 22.

She had been arrested by morality police who enforce a strict dress code which requires women to wear a scarf-like covering over their hair and neck.

The protests have escalated into calls for an end to the Islamic regime, posing the biggest challenge for the clerics since the 1979 revolution deposed the shah.

Authorities have responded with deadly violence that has left hundreds dead.

Thousands have been arrested and 14 detainees sentenced to death, many for killing or attacking security force members, according to the judiciary. Four have been executed, the latest two on Saturday.

Many of Sunday’s protesters in France had a personal connection to the country.

“I am here to demand freedom in Iran,” Sholeh Golrokhi, 49, said. “When I was little, they arrested all of my family.” “We are here to ask Western countries to be the voice of our people” and “expel Iranian ambassadors”, said Samane Ramezanpanah, 35.

In late December a 38-year-old Iranian man drowned in the Rhone river that flows through Lyon, saying on social media that he was going to kill himself to draw attention to the crackdown of the protests in Iran.

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