Iran protests: Pro-government rallies held in major cities

Protests in Iran

The mercurial president offered no specifics, but a senior administration official said that the White House was "looking across the board" at sanction authorities allowing Trump to target organizations or individuals involved in human rights violations, censorship or preventing free assembly.

A regional official confirms that two people were killed in clashes in the western town of Dorud during an "illegal protest".

Pic: ReutersLONDON: Iran's Supreme Leader on Tuesday accused enemies of the Islamic Republic of stirring unrest, as anti-government demonstrations that began last week continued.

Prior to Mr Trump's tweets, United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said America would "amplify the voices of the Iranian people" and described the protests as the "completely spontaneous" act of a "long-oppressed people rising up against their dictators".

In a bid to stall further demonstrations, the authorities block access to online messaging services, including Telegram.

Thousands of Iranians have also taken part in pro-government demonstrations. Around 450 people have been arrested over the past three days, according to state media.

"Criticism and protest are an opportunity not a threat". This is a country which has led the world's per-capita execution rate, which routinely jails, tortures and murders dissidents, and which has no problem with the summary execution of protesters in the street.

There were no reports of deaths during protests that took place on January 2. The local governor said the protesters were armed.

On Tuesday he described the regime as "brutal and corrupt", ignoring warnings that US involvement could make it easier for the regime to blame outsiders for the unrest. In Ahvaz, an amateur video uploaded December 30 shows young Iranians throwing stones at security forces while chanting "Death to Khamenei", while in Mashhad protesters overturned a police vehicle and set it on fire.

"Saudis will receive Iran's unexpected response and they know how serious it can be", Shamkhani was quoted by Tasnim news as saying in an interview with Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV.

The United States has ramped up its rhetoric in support of antigovernment protesters in Iran as thousands rallied in support of Tehran's government. Twelve people were killed over the weekend.

But authorities have nonetheless responded with mass arrests and by restricting the use of the social media apps Instagram and Telegram, used to organize the rallies. Uttering those words in public is enough to earn you a charge of enmity toward god and a death sentence.

Takeyh and three United States officials who follow Iran said the protests undercut Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who took office in 2013 pledging to improve Iran's economy, more than they threaten the country's clerical rulers. "The people of Iran are crying out for freedom". The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. "The US is watching!"

The U.K.'s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet that "we regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran, and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for worldwide obligations on human rights to be observed". The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council accuses the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia of supporting the opposition.

At a news conference she read a list of chants which she said were from Iranian protesters, including slogans like "we will die but we will take Iran back".

Critics rightly point to the Trump administration's misguided ban on visitors from mostly Muslim countries, including Iran, Trump's rants against the internationally binding nuclear deal with Iran, his near-total embrace of Saudi Arabia's regional policies (largely aimed at thwarting its rival Iran), the complicit silence on the human tragedy that is Yemen, and, finally, the president's odd decision to call the Persian Gulf the "Arabian Gulf".

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