Iranian hard-liners rallied Saturday to support the country's supreme leader and clerically overseen government as spontaneous protests sparked by anger over the country's ailing economy roiled major cities in the Islamic Republic. Thousands of people have taken to streets of several cities in Iran, beginning first in Mashhad, the country's second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.
Iranian hard-liners rallied Saturday to support the country’s supreme leader and clerically overseen government as spontaneous protests sparked by anger over the country’s ailing economy roiled major cities in the Islamic Republic. Thousands of people have taken to streets of several cities in Iran, beginning first in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims. Apart from this, the demonstrators also have criticized Iran’s government during the protests, with social media videos showing clashes between protesters and police. Here are 10 top things to know about Iran protests:
1. As per the local media reports, these spontaneous demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since its 2009 Green Movement arose after Ahmadinejad’s re-election. However, information about them remains scarce as both state-run and semi-official media in Iran have not widely reported on the protests.
2. The protests, on Friday, reportedly struck Qom, a city that is the world’s foremost centre for Shiite Islamic scholarship and home to a major Shiite shrine.
3. In Tehran, about 4,000 people gathered at the Musalla prayer ground in central Tehran. They called for criminal trials for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, leaders in the Green Movement who have been under house arrest since 2011.
4. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, campaigned on freeing the men, though they remain held.
5. It is believed that the country’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy.
6. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft.
7. Police have already arrested some protesters while the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election.
8. Even though the average Iranians have developed in the recent past, unemployment remains high in the country. A recent increase in egg and poultry price by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the protests.
9. Early on Saturday, US President Donald Trump tweeted out his support for the protests. “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” he wrote. “Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! (hashtag) IranProtests,” Trump added.
10. Meanwhile, the State Department issued a statement Friday supporting the protests, referencing Tillerson’s earlier comments. “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” the statement said.