Tehran (January 2, 2018): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to downplay the significance of sometimes violent protests across his country that have left 12 people dead in the biggest challenge to the authority of the Tehran regime since mass demonstrations in 2009.
“Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament on Monday.Rouhani has called for calm as his government tries to deal with the widespread spontaneous uprising.
State media reported Monday that a man “creating a disturbance” shot at police with a “hunting gun,” killing one officer and wounding three others. The shooting happened in Najafabab, a provincial town in the center of Iran.Rouhani called out Donald Trump on Monday after a series of tweets from the US President in support of the protests. US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted support for protesters Monday, saying “We will not let them down.”Rouhani has acknowledged that Iranians have the right to protest legally but urged national unity Monday as “the first and most important step at this stage.”
A significant Internet outage was reported across Iran on Monday afternoon, but some users said it was working again. Iran’s Ministry of Information said agitators in the disturbances have been identified and arrested, and warned that people participating in illegal activities would be “seriously dealt with.”
The protests were sparked by concerns about rising living costs and a stagnant economy, but developed into a broader outcry against the regime.
They are the most serious challenge to Tehran’s authority since the so-called Green Movement of 2009, when millions marched in the capital to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The opposition alleged the vote was rigged.