Iran's judiciary chief vowed no leniency Sunday against the wave of unrest that has rocked the country since the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.
The warning from Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei came after nine nights of protests and street clashes, and it echoed earlier comments by Iran's ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
At least 41 people have died so far, mostly protesters but including members of the Islamic republic's security forces, according to an official toll, although human rights groups say the real figure is higher.
The judiciary chief "emphasised the need for decisive action without leniency" against the core instigators of the "riots", the judiciary's Mizan Online website said.
Hundreds of demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested amid the mostly night-time demonstrations that have spread to scores of cities since unrest first broke out after Amini's death on September 16.
Security forces have fired live rounds and bird shots, rights groups charge, while protesters have hurled rocks, torched police cars, set ablaze state buildings, and shouted "death to the dictator".
Amini, whose Kurdish first name was Jhina, was arrested on September 13 for allegedly breaching the rules that mandate tightly-fitted hijab head coverings and which ban, among other things, ripped jeans and brightly coloured clothes.
Some Iranian women protesters have since removed and burnt their hijabs in the rallies and cut off their hair, some dancing near large bonfires to the applause of crowds that have chanted "zan, zendegi, azadi" or "woman, life, freedom".