Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Iran on Friday to protest rising prices and corruption in Iran’s Islamic government. The protests included calls of “Death to the dictator.”
The protests began on Thursday and are thought to have originated on social media, BuzzFeed News reports. Initially, the protests, comprised of adults mostly under 40, started over economic issues as Iran's unemployment rate rose by 1.4% from last year to 12.4% overall, but quickly turned political as demonstrators reportedly called “for freedom of political prisoners and even an end to the clerical regime.”
A report from Reuters noted the following highlights from the protests:
- About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars said was a “call by the anti-revolution.” They shouted: “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, and some public property was destroyed. Fars did not name any opposition groups.
- Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators yelling, “The people are begging, the clerics act like God.”
- Social media videos also showed demonstrators chanting “Leave Syria, think about us”, criticizing Iran’s military and financial support for Assad.
- Tehran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country’s civil war, Shi‘ite militias in Iraq, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group.
- Some social media videos showed demonstrators chanting “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the dictator”. Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities.
Pro-government protests are scheduled for Saturday to commemorate a crackdown on reformists in 2009 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and its Basij militia. Regarding the current protests in Iran, The Revolutionary Guard said, “The Iranian nation ... will not allow the country to be hurt.”
Several videos emerged on social media of the protests that showed demonstrators peacefully protesting Iran’s government, which is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism — something that former President Barack Obama supported when he ended a massive federal investigation into the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.