Protests in Iran continue, despite crackdown warnings and social media restrictions

Anti-government protests persisted in Iran for the fourth day, with calls for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down

Published December 31, 2017 4:58PM (EST)

Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

For the fourth consecutive day anti-government protests erupted across Iran, in defiance of explicit warnings from the authorities. The protests mark the most significant display of social unrest since the widespread 2009 pro-reform protests, according to multiple news reports.

The protests began on Thursday, at first pertaining to economic grievances "but have since taken on a political dimension, with unprecedented calls for the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to step down," The Guardian reported.

Protesters have ripped down pictures of Khamenei, in what have been called the largest demonstrations in the country since the disputed election of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2009.

In his first comments since the demonstrations began, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani expressed support for Iranians having the right to protest, but condemned any violent activities.

"The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public order and create unrest in the society," Rouhani said, Reuters reported. An Iranian, who requested anonymity said that he "saw a few young men being arrested and put into police van. They don’t let anyone assemble."

At least 200 demonstrators were arrested in Tehran on Saturday, while those arrested in the provinces still remains unclear. Protests outside the capital were much larger, and two protesters were killed, The Guardian reported.


Several social media videos showed riot police clashing with protesters, and that police in Tehran had used a water cannon on protesters, Reuters reported. Iranian newspapers also called for the authorities to "listen" to their people.

Social media sites such as Instagram and the messaging app Telegram were "restricted" in the name of maintaining security, CNN reported.

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov, tweeted on Sunday morning that Iranian authorities have blocked access to the messaging app "for the majority of Iranians."

President Donald Trump weighed in on Saturday and opportunistically supported the protests, and warned that the "world is watching," as Salon previously reported.

On Sunday morning Trump tweeted about the protests again in a provocative manner and said the people of Iran were "wise" because "their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism."

The Trump administration has escalated U.S. tensions with Iran as the president has repeatedly slammed the Obama-era nuclear deal. Recently, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also condemned Iran's alleged involvement in the war in Yemen, though she shielded U.S. complicity in the Saudi-backed air campaign.

Trump is also faced two major decisions regarding whether or not to keep the nuclear deal in tact in mid-January.

By Charlie May

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