A university student takes part in a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by anti-riot Iranian police on Saturday. Iran has seen its largest anti-government protests since the disputed presidential election in 2009.
At least 10 people were reported killed in bloody street protests across Iran, while President Hassan Rouhani warned that his government would show “no tolerance” for those who incite unrest.
The deaths took place Sunday, which marked the fourth straight day widespread street demonstrations that have been linked to economic grievances and included chants denouncing the country’s top leaders.
President Trump used Twitter Monday morning to deliver his latest criticism of Iran’s rulers:
Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Trump has been a sharp critic of Iran and the nuclear deal the country signed in 2015 with the U.S. and other world powers.
Iran’s state television reported the 10 deaths on Sunday, saying six took place in the western town of Tuyserkan, about 200 miles southwest of Tehran. The Iran state media also reported two deaths on Saturday. The Iranian government shut down access to social media platform Instagram on Sunday, as well as a popular messaging app, which protesters used to organize.
The protests erupted last Thursday in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, and quickly spread to cities nationwide. The main complaint is the anemic economy. Iranians were hoping for improved living conditions following the nuclear deal and the lifting of some international sanctions.
However, the economy has remained weak. Unemployment in the spring of 2017 was 12.6 percent, up slightly from late 2016, according to the World Bank. Other estimates say the unemployment rate is actually much higher.
“This began over economic issues,” Robin Wright, a long-time Iran watcher who writes for The New Yorker, told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Now it has taken on a political component, challenging not only the government of President [Hassan] Rouhani, but also the broader religious system.
Rouhani was elected to a second four-year term last year with a pledge to strengthen the economy, while the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has presided over Iran since 1989.
In remarks broadcast on state television Sunday, Rouhani said, “According to the constitution and citizens’ rights, people are free to express their criticism and to protest.”
However, he also warned: “The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public unrest and create unrest in the society.”
The protests are widely described as the largest since 2009, when demonstrators took to the streets to following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“It’s clear there’s a kind of discontent that’s sweeping Iran over broad issues. But it doesn’t look like it has the kind of leadership it did in 2009,” Wright said. “It’s unclear how this is happening from town to town, except through social media.”Share