[HOT] – Rouhani Urges Calm in Iran as Protests Continue

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After four In the days of rare protests that rocked Iran, President Hassan Rouhani attempted to calm the nation on Sunday, saying that people had the right to demonstrate and acknowledge the public's concerns about the economy and the economy. Corruption

and based on the Constitution and the rights of citizenship, people are completely free to express their criticism and even their protests, "said Rouhani, according to the state newspaper PressTV.

But he also urged Iranians not to resort to violence, after reports of protesters attacking banks and municipal buildings across the country, including a local government building in Tehran.

Demonstrations are the first major protests in Iran since 2009, when people paraded through the streets The results of a presidential election that kept a hard-liner in power and was widely regarded as fraudulent. Mr. Rouhani, a moderate, came to power in 2013.

The recent unrest began by protesting rising prices and quickly turned into a wave of national anger against the government, including corruption.

In 2009, the protesters supported the reformers, but now their dissatisfaction seems to be with their leaders in general.

In an unusually daring act of defiance, some protesters in Tehran and elsewhere called for the resignation of the Iranian supreme leader. The leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and witnesses described the crowds chanting "Death to the dictator" and "Clerics should get lost."

The video broadcast on social networks shows police in Tehran firing water cannons to disperse protesters. in the Ferdowsi Square, Reuters reported, although the images could not be independently confirmed.

Two protesters were reported killed in recent days in the city of Dorud, and there were reports of dozens of

The Iranian media being tightly controlled, it remained difficult evaluate the scale of the events. But they were clearly severe enough for Mr. Rouhani to feel the need to answer.

State television also said that authorities would temporarily restrict access to Instagram and the Telegram messaging app, to "keep the peace".

What began as an economic demonstration became violent on Saturday in Tehran. National news agencies showed images of protesters attacking banks and municipal buildings across the country. Credit Social Media, via Reuters

The demonstrations erupted against the backdrop of a deep malaise Iran, punctuated by rising prices and high unemployment, especially among young people.

Rouhani was finally re-elected in May, partly on the Iranian hope that his successful negotiation of a historic nuclear deal in 2015 with major foreign powers, including the United States, would lead to an economic revival and greater prosperity in the nation of 80 million.

However, these hopes have become disappointing. Despite the easing of nuclear-related economic sanctions and the increase in oil sales – Iran's most important export – the main US restrictions, including the ban on the use of the US banking system by the Iranians, seriously limit Iran's efforts to become less economically isolated.

While some large multinationals such as Total and Renault have engaged with Iran since the entry into force of the nuclear deal, many foreign companies are reluctant to take large commitments in the country. And President Trump's threats to abandon the nuclear deal have given potential investors in Iran more reasons to hesitate.

Rouhani's inability to improve the livelihoods of the people was further compounded by recent commodity price spikes such as eggs, coupled with government plans to sharply reduce the subsidies that many Iranians are accustomed to. While the Iranian authorities seem to have been surprised by the spontaneity and speed of the demonstrations, outside analysts have little doubt that Mr. Khamenei and his subordinates would use the resentment towards the government on economic issues. force to delete them if they thought it necessary. And there is little to suggest that the protesters have leaders or a consistent message, like those of the uprising of 2009.

"The demonstrations in progress, on the other hand, do not show any definite requirements, no leadership or organization, and, "said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group, a Washington-based political risk advisory firm, in a notice sent to clients on Sunday, but he also warned:" The troubles are obviously unpredictable – the coming days could take unexpected turns. The signs of a surprise include; a leader or a small group of emerging leaders, a definite manifesto, and much larger protests. "

President Trump doubled his frequent criticism of the Iranian government on Sunday, posting on Twitter:" People are finally becoming wise about how their money and wealth are stolen and wasted on terrorism. It looks like they will not take it anymore. The United States keeps a close watch on human rights violations! "

In an apparent response to Mr. Trump on Sunday, Mr. Rouhani said:" This man who today in America wants to sympathize with our people has forgotten that a few months ago he has called the Iranian terrorist nation, "according to PressTV." This person who is against the Iranian nation from head to toe does not have the right to feel sorry for the Iranian people. "

Senator Republican Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said that he had spoken to President Trump's phone on Sunday morning urging him to be more energetic with the Iranian government. "It's not enough to watch," he said. said Graham on CBS's "Face the Nation." President Trump very kindly tweets the people of Iran. But you can not tweet here. You must develop a plan.

Trump later tweeted about Iran's blocking of some social media, saying it was preventing peaceful protesters from communicating.On Sunday, Telegram's chief executive, Pavel Durov, confirmed that the application had been blocked, posting a statement on Twitter saying that "the Iranian authorities started blocking Telegram in Iran today after We publicly refused to shut the channels of peaceful Iranian protesters. "

He added:" We are proud that Telegram is being used by thousands of massive opposition channels around the world. We regard freedom of speech as an undeniable human right and would prefer to be blocked in a country by its authorities rather than to limit the peaceful expression of alternative opinions.

Yonette Joseph and Noah Weiland Matthew Sedacca contributed to the research

Follow Martin Fackler on Twitter: @martfack .

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