Rouhani: Protests must be expressed in a way to help improve living standards

December 31, 2017

TEHRAN – In his first reaction to three days of protests in certain cities across Iran, President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on Sunday that people should express their grievances in a way that it would lead to better living condition for citizens and investment in the country.

“According to the Constitution and citizenship rights, people are completely free to express criticism and even protest. But at the same time we should note that the way criticism is delivered should be such that it would end in better situations for the country and people’s lives,” Rouhani said.

The president said the resolution of certain problems facing the country is not easy and will certainly take some time.

Referring to the motivation behind the protests, Rouhani said, “Part of the economic problems of people date back some years, while another part of the problems are related to the present day. The government and the nation should join hands and help each other. However, people’s criticism does not pertain to the economy alone. People have things to say about corruption and transparency. They demand that things be transparent.”

People also have criticism against the Judiciary and parliament and other bodies, the president said.

“To turn all the people’s criticism against the executive body in media is imprecise,” Rouhani remarked.

“People complain that corruption should be fought more seriously, and [ask] why some issues are not disclosed to them properly. Criticism in the country’s entire affairs is a right of the people and we believe that the government and the country belong to people and people should be able to well express what they wish to.”

‘Criticism is different from violence’

The president in the meantime stressed that criticism is different from violence and sabotage of public property. “We welcome criticism. And the related bodies should open way for people’s legal criticism and protest and even congregations and demonstrations. This is a right with people.”

He added, “The government definitely will not tolerate those who destroy public property or disrupt public disorder.”

He reiterated that criticism should be made in a quite logical and legal way so that it can lead to the improvement of the situation.

If a method is adopted for expression of criticism which would cause “concern” among the people, undermine “investment”, or please the enemies, it would definitely be a “wrong approach”.

On U.S. President Donald Trump’s meddlesome remarks about the protests, Rouhani said, “This guy who is trying to sympathize with our people today has forgotten how a few months ago he called the Iranian nation terrorist. This guy who is against the Iranian nation from head to toe has no right to sympathize with [them].”

The president went on to note how these days certain Arab countries which were never friendly towards Iran are now “celebrating”, concluding “We should consider if this way of protesting is a precise method and whether it benefits people or others.”

SP/PA

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