Iran cracking down on protesters following weekend long demonstrations

TEHRAN, December 31, 2017 — The Iranian government has begun cracking down on mass protesters. The demonstrations began Thursday, in response to the economic woes plaguing the country. The mass demonstrations are the largest to erupt since the protests the followed the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The protests spread in part by messages being sent on a messaging app, which government officials later blocked on Sunday, along with Instagram. Two people

were killed during the third night of protests and Iranian officials have warned that protesters will “pay the price.” Iran’s Interior Minister  Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli appeared on state television saying “Those who damage public property, disrupt order and break the law must be responsible for their behavior and pay the price.”

On Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani issued his first statement, since the civil unrest started, saying that people have the right to do so but they must do so peacefully. “Criticism and protest is the people’s right; it must solve the problems of the country and improve people’s lives,” he said. “It is different from violence and destruction of public property.” The Iran government cut off internet access to the people. President Donald Trump tweeted out his support for the protests on Sunday.

Rouhani fired back saying: “Government and people solve problems together. One who calls the Iranian nation a terrorist does not have the right of compassion for our people,” Rouhani said. Trump later called Iran “the number one state of sponsored terror.”

The protests originally started out in small provinces but quickly fanned into massive protests that spread into the capital city of Tehran. Students at Tehran University were seen on social media chanting anti-government slogans and fighting with police.  It’s still unclear who is responsible for the unrest, in Iran’s political system, different factions are pointing at each other, with Rouhani supporters blaming religious hard-liners.

Iranian authorities have blamed external forces for fomenting the protests, saying the majority of social media reports were emanating from regional rival Saudi Arabia or exile groups based in Europe. Should Iran officials crack down on the civil unrest, the price can be costly for those who choose to protest. Those convicted of protesting in 2009 during the election, received severe sentences and massive fines.

As the protests continue, people all over the world are watching to see what will happen. Many wonder if the world will see some kind of major government change in 2018.

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