Tehran, Dec 30 (AFP) The Iranian government warned people against further protests today after two days of demonstrations sparked by anger over an array of economic problems. Also Read - From Passion to Books, Beauty & Food: This is What Indian Women Are Talking About on Twitter
“We urge all those who receive these calls to protest not to participate in these illegal gatherings as they will create problems for themselves and other citizens,” said Interior Minister Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli. Also Read - Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Puts His 1st Tweet on Sale, Bid Reaches Rs 2 Crore
State news channel IRINN said it had been banned from covering the protests that spread from second city Mashhad on Thursday to hit several towns and cities. Also Read - Neither Badminton Nor Tennis, Amol Gupte Reveals What Trolled Saina Poster Really Stands For
The protests initially targeted economic problems, but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole.
US President Donald Trump warned “the world is watching” after dozens of demonstrators were arrested.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi dismissed Trump’s comments as “irrelevant” and “opportunistic”.
Media coverage inside Iran focused almost exclusively on pro-regime rallies held on Saturday to mark the defeat of the last major protest movement in 2009, which hardliners call “the sedition”.
The timing was coincidental, since the rallies are held every year on this day, but offered a handy show of strength to the regime as huge crowds of black-clad supporters gathered across the country.
“The enemy wants once again to create a new plot and use social media and economic issues to foment a new sedition,” Ayatollah Mohsen Araki told a crowd in Tehran, according to the conservative Fars news agency.
Video footage on social media showed hundreds marching through the holy city of Qom on Friday evening, with people chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Free political prisoners”.
There were even chants in favour of the monarchy toppled by the Islamic revolution of 1979, while others criticised the regime for supporting the Palestinians and other regional movements rather than focusing on problems at home.
Footage showed thousands gathered in the cities of Rasht, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Qazvin and elsewhere, with police responding with water cannons.
Officials were quick to blame outside forces for the unrest.
“Although people have a right to protest, protesters must know how they are being directed,” Massoumeh Ebtekar, vice president in charge of women’s affairs, wrote on Twitter.
She posted images from Twitter accounts based in the United States and Saudi Arabia, voicing support for the Mashhad protests.
Nonetheless, officials warned against dismissing the public anger seen in recent days.(AFP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.