Iranians attend widespread rallies to slam vandalism, support Islamic Republic

November 20, 2019

TEHRAN – People from all walks of life took to the streets across Iran on Tuesday and Wednesday to condemn the recent acts of violence in certain cities by some hooligans and anti-revolutionary elements who derailed the people’s protest to substantial increase in gasoline prices.

According to reports, people of Hamedan, Ardebil, Tabriz, Gorgan, Zanjan, Karaj, Shahr-e Kord and Khorramabad attended the rallies to assert their allegiance to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Republic system.

Late on November 14, the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) issued a statement to recount details for new prices of fuels in the country, which was followed by another statement the following day by Management and Planning Organization chief (MPO) Mohammad Baqer Nobakht who said that the revenues from price increase will be paid in form of cash subsidy to 60 million people.

In what followed after the decision, protests erupted in several cities with people calling on the government to reverse course. The demonstrations, however, turned violent in some cities, with clashes between security forces and certain elements damaging public property.

The damage caused to public and private property is tens of millions of dollars, and that’s a conservative estimate.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday morning supported the government’s decision and condemned any act of sabotage carried out by some “hooligans” and supported by Iran’s enemies.

“You see in the past two days, all the centers of evil in the world have been encouraging such acts against us. From the sinister Pahlavi dynasty to the vicious and criminal gang of Monafeqin (the MEK terrorist group); they are constantly encouraging hooliganism via the internet and other means,” the Leader stated.

Other officials also blamed Monfaeqin and the Pahlavi dynasty in addition to the U.S. and Israeli governments.

Critics, however, questioned the timing of the decision, which came amid heightened economic pressure on Iranian people as a result of the inhumane economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

They also criticized the sudden announcement of the measure, describing it as an undemocratic way of making a decision that affects the entire nation.

In his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei urged the authorities to take good care of the affected people and assuage the hardship caused by the move.

He also called on the people to take note of the enemies’ plots to disrupt Iran’s security and take a separate path from the rioters that try to foment insecurity in the country.

The Leader quoted officials as saying that they would not allow the gasoline price hike lead to increase in prices of other commodities.

This is important because a further increase in commodity prices creates many problems for the people, Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The protests also prompted all factions of the Iranian political spectrum to unify and condemn foreign intervention in Iran’s internal affairs.

As an instance, Mahmoud Sadeqi, an outspoken reformist lawmaker, said Iran would not allow ill-wishers to interfere in its internal affairs, hinting at Washington’s meddlesome remarks in the aftermath of the protests.

“While pursuing and insisting on people’s rights, we will not allow any interference in our internal affairs by ill-wishers, foreigners and the promise-breaking hegemonic government of the U.S. that has disrupted the people’s livelihood through its cruel sanctions,” Sadeqi tweeted on Monday.

It came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced his support for Iranian protesters, right after he insisted “continued pressure” on Iran, which ironically includes economic sanctions targeting the Iranian people.

“As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you,” Pompeo said in his Twitter account on Saturday, retweeting a Persian-language tweet he sent out in July 2018 that attacked the Islamic Republic’s policies.

Facing security concerns, Iran shut down the internet when the number of attacks and arsons increased across the country. The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) was named as the body responsible for the decision.

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the SNSC, has said anti-Revolution elements and the MEK were behind the unrest.

Iranian officials have tried to distinguish between peaceful protestors and troublemakers.

Abbasali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman for the Guardian Council, said opposing executive decisions is an inevitable right of the people, but stressed that public properties should not be damaged in the protests.

Police Chief Hossein Ashtari on Sunday called on protestors to separate their way from vandals who are trying to create chaos.

Ashtari said those thugs who have damaged public and private property have been identified and will face the consequences of their actions in due time.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has warned that it would take a tough line with those who foment unrest and disrupt the “comfort” and “tranquility” of the people.

In a statement on Monday, the IRGC said it acknowledges the rightful demands of the people and thanked the Iranian nation for their insight and awareness in recognizing the enemy’s sinister plots, emphasizing that the Guards is duty-bound to protect the country’s security and peace.

Also, in remarks on Monday, Basij Chief Brigadier General Gholamreza Soleimani said his forces are ready to be deployed to put an end to the unrest.

General Soleimani said while the people’s voice should be heard in Iran as a free country, the rioters who destroy and loot people’s property should be dealt with.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the people have the right to protest, however, vandalism will not be tolerated.

Speaking at the cabinet, Rouhani said, “Protest is different from riot. Protest is the people’s right and they can protest. The government accepts even harsh criticism. However, we should not allow insecurity in the society.” 

Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi also differentiated between the people who protest the recent gas price hike and those who disrupt the country’s security, asserting that damaging public and private property would lead to harsh punishment.

“Damaging public and private property, setting banks and different places ablaze, harming people’s psychological peace and frightening women and children with any intention would lead to harsh punishments,” he said on Monday.

MH/PA

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