People entitled to protest peacefully against economic, political situation: MP

February 12, 2020 - 22:33

TEHRAN - Senior parliamentarian Ali Motahari said on Tuesday that the people are entitled to protest against economic shortcomings or political situation in a peaceful and legal manner.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Feb. 11 rallies marking the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Motahari said, "Protest is a legal right of any citizen. People should be allowed to express their protest in a peaceful way."

"Such protests can be against economic or political situation," the lawmaker said, adding that participation in the Feb. 11 rallies is a duty but the people are also entitled to criticize the current situation.

In relevant remarks in November, Tehran Friday prayers preacher Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said based on the Article 27 of the constitution, the people were entitled to hold peaceful gatherings and rallies provided that “principles of Islam” were not harmed.

The constitution’s chapter III (Article 19 to 42) refers to the rights of the Iranian people saying “Article 27 provides for freedom of assembly, provided that arms are not carried and the assemblies are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam. The law shall determine the details of this exception.”

In January and in reaction to students' protests against the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plan in southern Tehran that left 176 passengers killed, Motahari had said that no government would tolerate protests with subversive agendas.

“In the event that these gatherings go on and protesters resort to acts of violence and pursue subversive agendas, they need to be dealt with,” Motahari said at the time.

“These gatherings and chanting of slogans is natural to a certain degree.”

“Students are upset and they want to make their protest heard by the authorities,” he said.

Motahari said protests to this extent must be tolerated so that the protesters would be able to voice their grievances.

On January 8, the Iranian military mistakenly downed the Ukrainian passenger plane. The shooting took place a few hours after Iran fired missiles at a U.S. airbase in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. The operator had mistaken the passenger plane with an invading missile as the military had been put on high alert.