US: "World is watching" as anti-government protests spread across Iran
Anti-government protests have spread to several major cities across Iran, including Rasht and Kermanshah. The protests began on Thursday against rising prices but are now generally opposed to clerical rule and policies of the reformist Hassan Rouhani government. Dozens of protesters have been arrested. US President Donald Trump tweeted that the 'corrupt' Iranian government should "respect their people's rights." Here's more.
How did the protests begin?
The protests first began in Mashhad, Iran's second-most-populous city, on Thursday. Protesters took to the streets to express their anger against high prices and President Rouhani's regime. 52 protesters were arrested for chanting "harsh slogans." On Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in Kermanshah, Rasht, Isfahan and Qom. There's a heavy police presence across the capital Tehran.
Why are people protesting?
The protests initially focussed on the economic situation and corruption but later turned political. Slogans were raised against Rouhani, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the clerical rule. Protesters yelled slogans such as: "The people are begging, the clerics act like God." There are increased calls for protests on social media amid warnings against illegal gatherings by the government.
US urges world to support Iranian citizens' demands for rights
"The Iranian government should respect their people's rights, including their right to express themselves. The world is watching," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted. President Trump later also posted the tweet. The US State Department has urged all countries "to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption."