Iran hosts pro-government demonstrations, as pricing protests turn political

Iran hosts pro-government demonstrations, as pricing protests turn political

Iran hosts pro-government demonstrations, as pricing protests turn political
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Thousands of followers of Iran’s religious establishment protested on Friday, including 50,000 Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia members, according to state television, as protests over rising food costs turned political.

“The enemies mistakenly think the Iranian people will respond to …the rumors that they spread and lies they tell,” Guards commander Hossein Salami said in televised remarks at the massive rally outside the capital Tehran, which marked a major victory in Iran’s war with Iraq in the 1980s.

Iranian officials claim that the turmoil caused by increased food prices is the work of foreign opponents. On Friday, state television broadcast footage of pro-government protesters screaming “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in the southern cities of Yasuj and Shahr-e Kord, both of which have had recent rallies.

Iranians marched to the streets last week after a reduction in food subsidies prompted prices for some flour-based necessities to skyrocket by up to 300 percent. The protests swiftly became political, with crowds chanting for the Islamic Republic’s demise, mimicking upheaval in 2019 that began with a rise in petrol costs.

The demonstrations were acknowledged by the administration, but they were classified as tiny gatherings. Last Monday, state media announced the detention of “dozens of rioters and provocateurs.”

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Authorities have also detained a number of labor union and human rights activists on suspicion of having relations with foreigners, according to a prominent rights group on Friday.

“The arrests of prominent members of civil society in Iran on baseless accusations of malicious foreign interference is another desperate attempt to silence support for growing popular social movements in the country,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

Iran’s official media broadcast details of the arrest of two French citizens earlier this month, claiming they were spies trying to incite unrest.

France has criticized their incarceration as unjustified and requested their immediate release, in an event that is expected to strain relations between the two nations while broader talks to restart a nuclear accord stagnate.

Teachers across Iran have been protesting for improved compensation and working conditions in recent months. Dozens of people have been arrested.

Inside Iran, social media users report that Internet connections have been blocked since last week, in what appears to be an effort by authorities to prevent the use of social media to coordinate protests and circulate films. Iranian officials denied that Internet connectivity had been disrupted.

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