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LIVE BLOG: Iran Protests


People demonstrate in support of protests across Iran, Jan. 6, 2018, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

* Click here to read our story on the situation in Iran

1/8/2018 7:35 a.m
. - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday all officials can be criticized and that protesters in Iran are upset about more than economic issues.Rouhani also called for the lifting of bans on social media.

1/8/2018 4:00 a.m. - Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed a security conference in Tehran on Monday, echoing the Iranian authorities' stance which alleges that foreign countries have stirred up unrest linked to the protests.

Zarif says that "no country can create a secure environment for itself at the expense of creating insecurity among its neighbors.''

The official IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying that "such efforts'' will only backfire.

1/7/2018 9:25 a.m. — CIA Director Mike Popmeo says President Donald Trump supports the Iranian people who were out protesting against their government and wants them to have a voice. Speaking to Fox News, Pompeo said "This issue is very real."

1/7/2018 9:01 a.m. — Iran's parliament held a special session Sunday to discuss the anti-government protests that began December 28 and continued into the following week.

1/7/2018 3:45 a.m. — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sunday the country’s people and security forces had defeated unrest fomented by foreign enemies, as parliament and key security officials met to discuss the boldest challenge to the clerical establishment since 2009.

“Iran’s revolutionary people along with tens of thousands of Basij forces, police and the Intelligence Ministry have broken down the chain (of unrest) created ... by the United States, Britain, the Zionist regime (Israel), Saudi Arabia, the hypocrites (Mujahideen) and monarchists,” the Guard said in a statement on its Sepahnews website.

Meanwhile, thousands of government supporters staged rallies for a fifth day in a backlash against the biggest anti-government protests since widespread unrest in 2009 over alleged election fraud.

State television showed live pictures of rallies in several cities, including central Shahr-e Kord where hundreds, many clutching umbrellas, had gathered despite heavy snowfall.

Residents contacted by Reuters in various cities have said the protests had subsided in recent days, after the government intensified a crackdown by dispatching Revolutionary Guard forces to several provinces.

Late Saturday, videos on social media showed a heavy police presence in cities, including Khorramabad in southwestern Iran where Wednesday evening social media posts showed protesters throwing stones at riot police.

People protest near the university of Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.
People protest near the university of Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

The protests have drawn largely young people and workers as well as members of the educated middle-class that formed the backbone of a pro-reform revolt almost a decade ago.

A police spokesman said most of those arrested were “duped” into joining the unrest and had been freed on bail, the state news agency IRNA reported. “But, the leaders of the unrest are held by the judiciary in prison.”

Tehran University Vice-President Majid Sarsangi said the university had set up a committee to track the fate of students arrested during the unrest.

Separately, a member of parliament said about 90 students were detained, 10 of whom were still not accounted for.

“It seems that the total number of detainees is around 90. Ten students from universities in Tehran and some other cities are in an uncertain position, and ... it is still unknown which body has detained them,” the labor news agency ILNA quoted reformist politician Mahmoud Sadeghi as saying.

Videos that appeared on social media in recent days showed relatives of detainees gathering outside prisons seeking information about the fate of their loved ones.

​1/7/2018 3:17 a.m. — Demonstrators gathered Saturday outside the White House, in a show of support for anti-government protests taking place in Iran. VOA Farsi Instagram posted several photos.

The gathering, at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, was organized by the Organization of the Iranian American Communities. It was held in solidarity with those demonstrating in Iran.

A demonstrator dressed as the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei participates in a rally across from the White House in Washington, Jan. 6, 2018, in solidarity with anti-government demonstrators in Iran. Iran has seen its largest anti-government protests since the disputed presidential election in 2009.
A demonstrator dressed as the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei participates in a rally across from the White House in Washington, Jan. 6, 2018, in solidarity with anti-government demonstrators in Iran. Iran has seen its largest anti-government protests since the disputed presidential election in 2009.

1/7/2018 2:26 a.m. — Iran’s parliament is set to hold a special session as soon as Sunday to discuss the anti-government protests that began Dec. 28 and continued through this week.

Iran’s ISNA news agency reported that Iran’s interior minister, head of intelligence and security council chief are all expected to attend. On the agenda are discussions of the root cause of the protests, as well as legal help for protesters jailed during the demonstrations.

The session was called by a group of reformist lawmakers, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In a letter, those lawmakers called for legal assistance for the detained and condemned any outside “interference” in the protests, calling out the United States in particular.

Iran's President Hasan Rouhani, center, leaves the parliament at the end of his swearing-in ceremony for the second term in office, in Tehran, Iran, Aug. 5, 2017.
Iran's President Hasan Rouhani, center, leaves the parliament at the end of his swearing-in ceremony for the second term in office, in Tehran, Iran, Aug. 5, 2017.

1/7/2018 12:20 a.m. — Much of the Middle East media is silent on the widespread protests in Iran.

1/7/2018 12:06 a.m. — To understand why Iranians are protesting, consider the town of Doroud.

Doroud should be a prosperous place — nestled in a valley at the junction of two rivers in the Zagros Mountains, it’s in an area rich in metals to be mined and stone to be quarried. Last year, a military factory on the outskirts of town unveiled production of an advanced model of tanks.

Yet local officials have been pleading for months for the government to rescue its stagnant economy. Unemployment is around 30 percent, far above the official national rate of more than 12 percent. Young people graduate and find no work. The local steel and cement factories stopped production long ago, and their workers haven’t been paid for months. The military factory’s employees are mainly outsiders who live on its grounds, separate from the local economy.

“Unemployment is on an upward path,” Majid Kiyanpour, the local parliament representative for the town of 170,000, told Iranian media in August. “Unfortunately, the state is not paying attention.”

FILE - Reformist Iranian presidential candidate, Mahdi Karroubi, with white turban at right, arrives in Doroud during his campaign tour to his home region in the Lorestan province about 190 miles (315 kilometers) southwest of Tehran, Iran, May 27 2009.
FILE - Reformist Iranian presidential candidate, Mahdi Karroubi, with white turban at right, arrives in Doroud during his campaign tour to his home region in the Lorestan province about 190 miles (315 kilometers) southwest of Tehran, Iran, May 27 2009.

SUNDAY EVENTS 1/7/2018

*Some information for this report provided by AP.

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